There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make you reassess your life choices. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life as we know it can change suddenly and when up against it, we're pretty good at adapting.
A few weeks ago, as we were emerging from the first long lockdown, I was chatting to one of our members at Tribe about the difficulty of not being able to plan for the future, how in the new normal of a global pandemic, none of us knows what’s going to happen. I was quickly reminded that despite what we like to think, we have never known what is going to happen. Predicting the future isn’t a skill that humans have mastered even after several million years of evolution.
Acknowledging this brought me a lot of comfort in that moment. It felt good to embrace not knowing for a while and admit that surrendering certainty in our lives, as difficult as that might be, could actually set us free; free from expectations, free from fear of failure and free from the urge to follow conventional or well trodden paths.
Freedom of spirit is often associated with entrepreneurship. In the last twenty years, there’s been a clear shift towards self employment and freelancing. Traditional employment prospects have been looking precarious for a long time and the well worn route of school, university or training and job is no guarantee of personal happiness or career success.
Setting up on your own may attract more risk, but it’s a risk more than 5 million people in the UK are willing to take, for greater control and freedom to work in a way that suits their lives.
The custodian of entrepreneurship is of course, the entrepreneur. It's a title which carries a lot of expectations and calls to mind stereotypes which many women find off putting. Research by Natwest, found that 60 percent of women who consider starting a business do not because of lack of confidence or not feeling qualified or up to the job, otherwise known as imposter syndrome.
At Tribe Women we’re reframing traditional ideas of entrepreneurship and feel that striving to be ‘enterprising’ is a concept that more of us can get comfortable with.
Taking an enterprising approach to life and work where self reliance, adaptability and creativity are key, feels right for these discombobulating times. Enterprising is:
-not squeezing yourself into a mould or a job that already exists.
-future proofing your career, by putting you at the centre, considering your values, the things that excite and energise you and using that to lead you to what you can offer to the world.
-being the very best version of who you already are, not pretending to be something you are not.
I left a job 5 years ago and took a risk to do something completely unexpected, to start a business with no experience. I had no idea if it would be a success, I only knew that trying to thrive in the corporate world, while juggling demands of home and family, was squeezing the life out of me.
There was a part of me that felt I had failed. As if I had read my own job description, striking fat red lines through all the key capabilities and core competencies required to be me. But intuition told me I still had much to offer, I just hadn’t found the right outlet for my particular skills and strengths.
Opportunity and fortune collided, and when life threw me a burning bridge too, I took the leap. The business didn’t stay the course but I’m forever grateful that I gave it my best shot. Experience has taught me that success doesn’t always look like you think it should. By being open to learning and making mistakes, surrounding myself with the right people and asking for support, I could find my own path to happiness and success, not one prescribed for me by others.
by Melissa McConnell