Yesterday, it was dark and chilly when the alarm clock rang at 5.30 am. An early start so that I could attend a breakfast networking event.
Stars were shining as I locked the door and began to walk quickly towards the train station. Too quickly. Unfortunately.
I realised I was falling too late to take corrective action. It felt like slow motion as I landed flat on my face with my glasses a full two feet further down the road.
Shocked, I stayed on the ground for a few moments, checking the extent of my injuries. Apart from the indignity, my biggest worry was time. With a train to catch, I wouldn’t be able to go home and change and still make it to the breakfast event.
Fortunately, dress and tights appeared unscathed, and apart from scratches on the palms of my hands, things didn’t look too bad. I gathered myself up, took a deep breath and continued on my way.
An hour later, safely at the venue, I hurried to the ladies room. Time to clean the cuts on my palms and tidy up before joining the other attendees for breakfast.
Working from home, I spend a lot of time alone so I enjoy the opportunity to meet other business owners. Often, the value of networking is that the people you meet over coffee are as interesting as the speakers.
Yesterday, two women I met run family businesses that have survived for more than 100 years. They each spoke about the sense of responsibility they feel to the past as much as to the future and how they sometimes struggle with their inner critic. It’s as if a small voice inside constantly questions their decisions, Interestingly, the same theme came up during the speakers’ presentations and after the event several women I spoke to mentioned feeling reassured that others shared their private fears.
One speaker talked about dealing with criticism. Acknowledging that there will always be people who think they know more about how to do your job than you do, she compared leadership to driving a bus. If you’re the driver, you have the map, you know where you’re going and you’re in charge of getting everyone to the destination. There may be lots of voices down the back of the bus complaining about the direction you’re taking, the speed and so on. But, you have to ignore those voices and focus on getting everyone safely to the destination.
It was an interesting morning. The speakers were frank and honest and the stories they told resonated with the audience which was made up entirely of women business owners.
The sun was shining as we emerged from the hotel and it was still early. This was my first breakfast networking event as a self-employed woman and I realised with joy that I didn’t have to rush back to the office. So I bought a coffee, found a seat outdoors and indulged in half hour of reflection and note making. Then it was time to take the train home. I stood up and suddenly realised that the early morning fall had caused some damage after all. The pain in my ribs was a harbinger of bruising to come. Thankfully, it receded as I began to walk. So I put my shoulders back, walked tall and headed home.
A day of ups and downs but a good day.