Connect In Before You Connect Out

Discovering your value-add offering to your network requires you to take an honest look at who you are, what you value and what your core beliefs are.  It will be impossible for you to be authentic and communicate your value to others is you’re not living your life honestly.

Fourteen years ago, I had my second child Madison.  I decided at that time I would close my business, which I loved, and pursue being one of those “good mothers” you know, the stay at home moms.  My husband, friends and family members, who knew me best, begged me not to do it.  They were convinced that I would be climbing the walls by the second week.  They urged me to cut back, work part-time, and not walk away from my career where my core needs for freedom and the ability to make an impact were met daily.

I envied stay-at-home moms whose core needs seemed to be met by doing what I consider the hardest profession in the world-raising children.  Convinced that my two daughters who were 5 and 3 months old, would grow up to be “perfect” and that there would be a gold chariot in heaven with my name on it for making such an amazing sacrifice, I laid off my babysitter, joined the kindergarten carpool and started “Perfecting Connecting” with my kids.

Now, I don’t really know how to cook and I hardly know my way around my own kitchen but one day, about three months into this self-imposed lock down, I decided that the ultimate mothers, the real stay-at-home moms, all know how to bake homemade chocolate chip cookies.  So, I headed to the grocery store to buy all the ingredients you need to make homemade chocolate chip cookies and I came home really excited about this new identity I was really trying to embrace and quickly ripped off the plastic and started slicing and carefully placing the perfect dough circles onto the cookie sheet…you know the real homemade kind!

I then drove over to the school to pick up my five year old Taylor and her little friend Katie who was coming over for a play date.  They were sitting at this little children’s plastic picnic table I kept in the kitchen coloring when I overheard little Katie ask my daughter, “Do you have a nanny?”

Taylor sat up quickly and said, “No, do you?”  Katie then said very proudly, “Yes, I have a nanny because my mommy works…does your mommy work?” 

Now this was the moment I was waiting for…the three months of lockdown that I had put myself through trying to become someone I wasn’t, mourning for the work I so desperately loved, and trying to fit in with the other stay-at-home mom’s at the playground was finally going to payoff!  I was sure that out of the mouth of my babe, I would hear my daughter say that,

“My mommy doesn’t work because she loves us so much, she has sacrificed her career and her talents and her core needs and values to raise my sister and me so we can become perfect, confident, contributing adults.” 

But instead, as I clutched my 6 month old in my arms, breast feeding, I heard my 5 year old say, “No, my mommy doesn’t work”

Katie then lifted her head up from her coloring book and said, “how come?”

Taylor, my intuitive, intelligent feeling daughter said,

“Because she doesn’t have anything else to do!”

No longer able to contain myself, I quickly replied, “Taylor honey, mommy actually had a job helping people connect with new jobs and learn how to get along better with the people they work with…I was very busy helping people, and I loved what I did but I decided you and Madison were more important, so now I’m working even harder staying home with you and Madison.”

With her beautiful blue eyes and long eye lashes she stared into my eyes and said very clearly, “Why?”

“Why…I just told you why,” now starting to sound very defensive.

With a little more assertiveness, and pointing her red crayon up at my face she said, “If you were helping people and you liked it, why did you stop?”

It hit me right there, as the smell of burnt chocolate chip cookies now lingered in the air, I knew what my very bright five year old was trying to say to me.  Why would you ignore your talents, values and core needs and try to be somebody that you’re not?  I realized at that moment that I would be a better mom & spouse not to mention a better networker if I was honoring my true self.

So, I hired a part-time baby-sitter, figured out how to make my business work with my family’s needs, moved my office to my home so I could have close contact with my kids and got my life back on course…I was finally perfecting Connecting with my family, my clients and myself.

Remember; connect in before you connect out.