Business is a part of our daily lives. When life happens - loss, stress, depression and so much more - we have to learn how to navigate it whilst still showing up for ourselves and our clients in the workplace.
This week's article is from Gamu who shares a personal story of how she has focused on the positives despite going through a huge personal loss on her journey to building Gen-A Consultancy.
As a solo business owner on the journey to creating impactful solutions for your chosen audience, you will often hear that your business is about who you are becoming.
But what does this mean? I will try to answer the question by telling you my own story….
I have spent the last week thinking about the mechanisms that help me to stay on top of my game when life simply happens. Almost 2 years ago now, I lost the most important person to me to Covid-19…my father. Now, those that know me or have had the opportunity to hear me speak will have heard me reference my father numerous times.
Caxton Henry Matarira was my best friend, my rock, my confidante and my north star. He was my number one champion at every milestone; my constant reminder that the sky is the limit and that greater things are around the corner, always.
When you lose the person at the centre of your world - the person who gets your every thought, feeling, intention – it can feel as though you have been abandoned in the abyss to face the things that are inevitably going to come your way, alone.
Running an Africa-facing business has meant being faced with all sorts of business challenges, having to jump through hoops at times and swerve pretty big curve balls every now and again before the landing. However, the strong, empathetic people person that was my father, always had the right advise to help me navigate the sometimes-murky waters in business. In hindsight, my ability to oscillate between different types of audiences is a credit to his unwavering support coupled with the gold dust that coated his profound words. I still hear his voice when faced with new challenges and he continues to be a strength I draw upon in uncertain times.
Despite this, there are days when I do not feel as though I am operating at my greatest, particularly as his anniversary draws near. However, as solo business owners, the show must go on and believe me, Mr Matarira would not have it any other way!
So how do we take care of ourselves – our emotions, our mental health and our physical wellbeing whilst dealing with something as debilitating as grief in the midst of running a business? And for anyone that has not experienced a major loss, the myth that it gets better over time is just that – a myth. When grief strikes - even 2 years after the loss - it feels exactly like it did the day you lost that person. The pain does not vanish; you just get better at coping with it.
I have taken to writing about it as a way of moving through it. I have also been invited to speak about my business at several events over the last year and a half where I acknowledge the integral role my father has played in the development of my human-to-human business ethos today. Yes, it is an absolutely vulnerable position to put myself in, sharing my inner most emotions on a stage with an audience I am meeting for the first time. However, the other side of the coin is that I continue to keep my dear father’s memory alive by regularly giving tribute to him and keeping his legacy alive through my work.
My father represented unity, he embodied love and compassion for all, he spoke positivity into others’ lives, and he upheld the highest standards of honesty and integrity in everything that he did. Most of all, he never missed an opportunity to pass on his wisdom through storytelling so that we, the younger generation, would avoid the pitfalls of those that came before us; he kept us continually learning and growing in the hope that we too would pass on the torch and so on and so forth. The man was a true beacon of light.
But who am I becoming?
I would love to think that I am becoming more like my father. In all honesty, that is an extremely high standard of human qualities that I can only commit to trying to achieve every day. What I can say unequivocally, is that in those darker moments when I feel alone on this journey and I desperately wish that he was still here to guide me, I must give space to my feelings. I must stop for a moment, breathe and get grounded. What I have learned by doing this repetitively is that when I connect with nature, I connect to my body. It allows me to connect to myself first before I can connect to anybody else. And when I connect to others, I am reminded that I am in fact not alone, neither was I destined to be. In business as in life, I am becoming exactly who I am at my core – a force for good, a connector of people and places and a vehicle for meaningful change.
Here is the thing - when you can love and connect to all of your emotions, your successes, your failures, your joys and your sufferings, you can love and connect to others. Only then can you start to shift your perspective towards a more positive and productive space that will allow you to keep moving forward with the right people beside you.
If like me, you have been going through a difficult period, I hope that my story helps you in some way. At the very least, know you are never alone in this journey of becoming who you are becoming.
To your success!