No Limit to What Women Can Accomplish
No limits here
“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” Michelle Obama
How does that quote make you feel? Do you think she needed to use the ‘as women’ bit? Taken out of context, I’m looking at it two ways:
That she’s encouraging us, as women, to lose our self-limiting beliefs. With the inference being that we might hold those beliefs because of the patriarchy.
That she’s talking about the power of women coming together, with a common aim, to achieve a goal.
Both interpretations are relevant and powerful for us as women. I know for sure that as a woman in business I have experience of dispelling limiting beliefs, both personally and with clients. I also am a firm believer in the power of community and know first hand of what can be achieved when women pull together.
Where there's a will there's a way
If I look back to the mid 1980’s, when I was studying for my degree, I think that was probably the first time I experienced that greatness of women pooling resources to attain, what initially seemed a lofty goal. £10k to be precise, which would be the equivalent of over £34k today. We were studying textiles and fashion design, a notoriously tough industry to get into. We wanted to take our degree show to London and self-fund an exhibition of our work in Covent Garden. The idea being that we’d have more work opportunities. Our official degree show was held in Loughborough’s Town Hall, hardly a metropolis, with high footfall.
There were 45 of us on our course, only 4 were male. We hadn’t really got a clue, but we set up a committee, opened a bank account and set to with a variety of fundraising activities. These ranged from themed ‘disco’ nights, cake sales, sponsored parachute jump and keep fit classes. We also organised an end of year ball for the graduates the year before us. I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I know that we would do anything we could to add to that piggy bank. Naivety meant that we thought we’d be able to do it, and we did! I have photos of the degree show exhibition that July, in a prestigious gallery space, in the heart of Covent Garden. I remember selling a piece of my original artwork for £45 and thinking I was rich! That was enough to pay a month’s rent in 1988.
Do whatever it takes
Several years later, the direct sales industry (aka party plan) gave me an incredible insight to generating team spirit and how tapping into the power of networking can help you achieve goals. Again, this was primarily an industry dominated by women. It was also my introduction to the world of self-development and motivational speakers. Attending training and conferences helped me and my team create a positive mindset. I saw women achieve annual salaries they could never dream of in other employment that would work around their family commitments. It really was an empowering industry.
I signed up with the Virgin Cosmetics Company when my son was 3 months old, it was my gateway out of a long, daily commute and needing to leave my beautiful baby in nursery while I worked. There was so much opportunity just there for the taking if you were willing to put the work in and believed that you could do it. I soaked it all up. I saw the highflyers on the stage at my first national conference and I had serious FOMO. I knew I wanted to be up there as one of them the following year. I worked hard at recruiting and motivating my team, we became a close knit unit and worked our way up the leader board. I rewarded them for achieving their goals, which meant we achieved our team goal. In turn, I got rewarded by the company and my upline manager – it was win, win and we were all pulling in the same direction for our own individual reasons.
Using the power of your network
When it came to taking over as chair of the PTA, I put all this learning into place. I used the principles of network marketing to recruit helpers. This meant that running the Christmas Fair was much easier than my predecessors had made it. There’d been 3-4 women trying to do everything. It had been an onerous task, swallowing up many hours of each individual’s time. It had a bad rep – nobody wanted to take over. I felt guilty and couldn’t not do it. My approach was to ask the volunteers to each ask within their own network for people to help them. Once again, it was primarily the women who took part.
The outcome was that everyone just had to do a bit. People had fun, there was a sense of ownership and groups of friends were working together. The year before I’d taken over there were 5 women running themselves ragged to put the event on. My first Christmas Fair had over 50 helpers in various ways – I know this because I kept a note of all the names and sent them a handwritten thank you card each.
SWISH Clothes Swap Fundraiser
I’ve used that model many times since to organise other fundraising activities. For the first SWISH Clothes Swap Fundraiser I hosted in 2017 I needed the event to be set up so that it could run without me being there, just in case mum needed me at short notice as she was terminally ill at the time. I remember thinking that I was going to be bold and put it out there that my target was £1000. I thought it would be a stretch and we probably wouldn’t do it, but it seemed like a nice round figure.
I recruited a team of helpers from my friends and Facebook community. This team was split up into sub teams and were responsible for different aspects of the event- refreshments, clothes sorting, selling raffle tickets etc. It was all very ‘suck it and see’ for that first event – we really were finding our way; it was a massive learning curve.
Imagine my delight when, at 9pm the night before the event we hit the (what I’d considered a big stretch) £1k target on my Just Giving page! I was over the moon. I distinctly remember the tears rolling down my cheeks as I sat, home alone, watching Friday night telly with a glass of wine. The best thing was that it meant I could just enjoy the social aspect of the event and anything else we raised was a bonus!
It's become an annual event now. We have raised almost £11k to date. It’s an awesome example of what we, as women, can accomplish when we build a community and work together. If you can get to Nottingham on 4th Feb maybe you could bring your unwanted stuff and swap it for something new to you at the swish? It’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe in an eco-friendly way.
The format is simple – you bring a bag full of clothes/accessories (supermarket bag for life size) and you get to try and choose a bag full to take away. The leftovers are donated to Sharewear Clothing Scheme, so it’s win win all round – what’s not to love. I’d love you to join us. You can find the full details of the event here.
FAB Network : female authentic ballsy
And interestingly, my business has now evolved to incorporate my love of bringing people together and creating a sense of community with the FAB Network. There’s something very special about surrounding yourself with likeminded women. We all rise together and there’s a circle of support. It’s for women in business who ARE their business. We meet monthly online and once a quarter face to face. Your first visit is free, if you’ve yet to try one of our meetings and are free 8th Feb 11-1pm hit reply and see if I have any golden tickets left. Be great to see you there.
As you may have gathered, I’m right there with Michelle, there definitely is no limit to what we can accomplish when we put our minds to something. How about you?
Tagged as: Community
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