As preschoolers, my kids loved Diane Adams’s I Can Do It Myself!. The book opens
Emily Pearl is a very big girl. She can pour her own juice.
She can tie her own shoes.
She can feed her cat Fred, and her goldfish Ted, too.
And if just for one second her mom tries to help, Emily says “I can do it myself!”
If you’re a parent, you can probably imagine the accompanying illustrations to these verses: spilled orange juice, scattered cat food, an overfed goldfish destined for a toilet bowl funeral, and a mom gritting her teeth as her daughter asserts some age-appropriate independence.
“I can do it myself!” is an excellent mantra for little Emily Pearl, but once you get past tying your shoes and on to adulthood, it’s time to let it go. While Motherhood, Apple Pie, and All That Happy Horseshit is all about having agency over your life as a mother and as a professional, it doesn’t mean going it alone. In fact, going it all alone isn’t going to get you very far, and you’ll probably be unhappy and stressed if you try it.
In both your role as a parent and as a professional, you will benefit from a robust support community. In Chapter 3 of Motherhood, Apple Pie, and All That Happy Horseshit, Cyndi asks readers to define their professional and personal networks.
Now, I can almost guarantee that new-entrepreneur-Julia from seven years ago would have skipped right over this exercise. I could do it myself! Wrong, Julia. Sure, I felt independent…and stressed, isolated, and unhappy. But, today, I know that my life and my business are more fulfilling – and, yes, successful – with my community around me.
Here are four ways my community makes me a better mompreneur:
- Different perspectives. I have a background in law and communications. My husband has experience in business and finance. My circle comprises people with health care, tech, engineering, and art backgrounds. We all see things a little differently. Whatever I am doing, in my personal or business life, discussing it with my people gives me a rich, diverse perspective that ultimately helps me make better decisions.
- Challenge. We often think of our communities or networks as a place for support. And while my bi-weekly entrepreneur mastermind does offer support and solutions, they also challenge me. In some ways, this can be even more valuable than support in the long term. They push me and shed light on potential flaws in my plans.
- Accountability. Just like Cyndi’s girlfriends help her get in a 3-mile walk each morning, my community helps me stick to my goals. There’s nothing like saying your commitments aloud to keep you honest!
- Deep fulfillment. In Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals (read it after you finish Motherhood!), author Oliver Burkeman talks to unfilled digital nomads, who have ultimate freedom but a dearth of satisfaction due to their lack of community. Humans evolved to be part of communities. I love the independence entrepreneurship offers, but I need the time I spend in service of my community, whether by volunteering with Girl Scouts, attending masterminds, or talking through “life” with my trusted friends.
How does your community make you a better entrepreneur? Are you worried about how you’ll form a professional community once you set out on your own? Tell us about it in the comments or email email@example.com and let’s talk about it!