Do you have a mentor? What about a business advisor? Health coach? Life coach? Think you don’t need one?
That’s what I thought too. But I’d urge you to think again.
For the first 14 and a half of my 15 years as an Occupational Therapist I didn’t have a mentor. For most of that time I worked as the sole OT in rural locations, so I made do with remote supervision from higher level OTs several hundred kilometers away. It was a tough slog, especially in the early years, constantly trying to figure out on my own what and how I should be doing day to day. But really, I was doing “just fine”. I was getting good feedback from bosses and clients, and would always somehow stumble upon a solution or the exact resource I needed at the last minute. We OTs like to pride ourselves on our resourcefulness (rightly or wrongly!).
So mentorship was never something I considered.
I’ve always been a fiercely independent woman. Which is probably because, as the daughter of a fiercely independent single Mum, I grew up with the notion that it’s best to be capable and resourceful and not be reliant on anyone else. So I never sought out a mentor. “Pfft, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do,” I told myself.
Until about six months ago. When I decided it was beyond time to open my own private practice. All of a sudden I had a ridiculously steep learning curve ahead of me. As fellow SASS sisters, I know you understand what I’m talking about! Running a business is a huge undertaking. There were so many things to be done and all of a sudden I wasn’t just an OT. I was also an accountant, marketing manager, administration officer, business planner, saleswoman and PR agent all rolled into one. I was also the mother of two little girls and wife to a husband I hardly had any time for anymore.
In short, I was swamped. I was trying to do it all myself with no support or guidance – except what I got from Mr Google.
So here I was, about to create an entire future around a business where I support and mentor women towards their health goals, when it hit me – like the proverbial tonne of bricks.
“Sarah – your new business is all about encouraging women to get professional support, advice and guidance – yet you seek none of this yourself!”
All of a sudden, it became crystal clear to me how much I wasn’t following my own advice. I didn’t know anything about running a business – it was ludicrous to try and do it on my own. That’s when I knew I needed to seek out professional business support.
Fast forward six months and I now have two clinical mentors, a business coach, an accountant, a graphic and web designer, 15 peer mentors from three in-person masterminds, dozens more from another online mastermind – and of course, the amazing Sass ladies.
It has made the world of difference – not just to my business, but to my entire life. Hand on heart, pinky swear.
I’ve learnt how to do the business stuff faster and smarter, what to prioritise, what to do myself and what to outsource. It means I don’t waste valuable hours on tasks I hate and/or simply can’t do in an appropriate amount of time (hello website development!). It has freed my time to provide more value to my clients, to create more programs, and most importantly, spend more quality time with my family.
I look back now on those 14 and a half years I worked without a mentor and wonder how much more I could have achieved if I’d have had the amount of guidance and support I have now. I’d probably have my own talk show.
So I urge you, whatever your big challenges are right now – whether it be starting a business, overhauling your health, overcoming emotional demons – to seek support. You don’t need to do it on your own. You don’t need to do the hard slog day in, day out, hoping to stumble on the right resource, like I did for so long. Reach out to someone who can guide the way for you – hire a health coach, a business coach, a personal trainer, whatever. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, seek out free resources, start your own mastermind.
You won’t regret it. I know I haven’t.
Until next time – be well!
(ps. This post first appeared as a guest post over at the fabulous The Sass – a networking, co-working and support group for women in business. Check their website out here.)