Marcy Madzikanda: On making connections. Part 1

Being a new Mum is daunting. Once you have survived child birth you are faced with the responsibility of looking after this little human and if like me you were not that maternal person before, it can be a scary process. Finding your ‘new normal’ is a process that takes time.

You find yourself racked with self doubt over every little thing you do and constantly second guessing your abilities. I thought this ability to question myself over every little detail was unique to me but I now I realise this is common to a lot of women especially new moms. My unique ability to critique myself to such a dizzy extent in the pursuit of excellence actually left me paralysed and prevented me from fully actualising my full potential.
This process, I have now come to understand, however well intentioned has limited my own growth. Rather than starting a number of ventures I have always stopped myself for one reason or another because ‘I could see the end’ before committing to the process. For example, I could have started this blog years ago, the passion and desire was there and I may have had a great following and probably been an ‘influencer’ with a viable following and better able to position my brand to monetise and make an impact beyond social media. More importantly I would have had more confidence talking about issues that fire my belly with traction and not shying away from writing my opinions. It has taken some time but I have finally found that confidence to ‘just start’. I read somewhere that when a child is born, so is the mother… let’s watch this space.

I recently attended a great event organised by Keziah Connections Web site. It was hosted @twitterHQ, London. I had seen Natalie’s events for a couple of years on instagram and kept meaning to attend but had never bought a ticket. I admired what she was doing from a distance and merely ‘liked’ her posts, followed her account and shared her events with friends but I never made that connection.

We both attended the same church for several years so I knew her, but we had never spoken beyond a smile or a hello at service. It took signing up to the event for me to say ‘well done’. It was also at her event that I realised I was not feeling self conscious in the room compared to other events I have attended where I’m often the only person of colour, or one of a handful in attendance. I had also roped my cousin to come with me as our monthly excursion out (I have slipped in planning these since I had my child, but will start again, and write a post about these) and she also found the event really useful as well as enjoy it.
I knew a few people through work, church, and Instagram and meeting them socially was so uplifting. Meeting my ‘Instagram friends’ was a bit weird like you know so much of this person via social media and finally meeting in person is a bit wow, so what do we talk about? I will make more of an effort to attend similar events and not be so introverted when I attend events that I may feel ‘not so comfortable’ at.

As I write about making connections, the one thing that blew my mind at this event, and is still on my mind now several weeks later, was the concept of ‘sponsorship’. It was brought up in relation to mentorship and women seeking these partnerships to help navigating their careers. I was familiar with ‘mentorship’ though was blown away with the fact that I had never been introduced to the concept of sponsorship. It led me to wonder if this was common in the U.K. and the charity sector where I had spent a decade of my professional life. It also left me thinking where would I be if I had a sponsor in my early career?

I don’t mean for this to be a purely black vs white, or male vs female privilege post, as this is not what it is. This started of as a piece on making connections which led me to think about how structures in society for whatever reason (discussed by many others) have often seen white people climb the ladder a lot faster than people of colour. In the past I have set up and managed a mentorship program. I have also been a mentor myself for different client groups. I have also been proactive in approaching a few people to be my mentor but the idea of having a (influential / senior manager) sponsor in the work place may have made such a difference to my career.

The value of mentor and sponsorship relationships is something I now wish I had pursued more diligently. I think where it didn’t work was not having the right fit for whatever reasons but where it does work and I don’t only mean in terms of career progression but in terms of a person finding their purpose and pursuing it. A sponsor can help a person to shift their perceptions of the barriers that hold them back and allow a person to think beyond what they believed possible. Sometimes we think we have it all together and it takes someone suggesting something or exposing you to something you had never known to be possible and opening your mind to new possibilities. With that in mind I will be more diligent in making connections.

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