Knowing where to look for support
As human beings, our brains are hardwired to learn and adapt best when stressed by situations. This can materialize in both negative and positive contexts.
We are actually more likely to remember negative experiences in general than positive ones. Why? Because the negative experiences have required an adaptation to occur.
Through our evolution, the ability to better retain the memory of a negative experience has often been in order to avoid danger. These are the emotions of fear and sadness that come about through highly stressful situations that trigger shifts in our brain-network balance.
You could think of it as our survival instinct.
It’s similar in the sense that if you want to improve at anything you do, you don’t do that by only getting compliments. You improve by (ideally constructive) criticism because it picks holes in what you are doing and forces you to find solutions or adapt processes to fill the gaps.
So what happens when we become stuck? You hit a creative wall and lack the tools and ability to find a solution.
Especially when you consider how many of us are working remotely or are trying to build our own businesses, often in trying to figure out solutions to our problems, we can feel overwhelmed and burnt out.
This is where the ability to rely on a pool of resources, inspiration, and support becomes invaluable.
This is where we can grow both as individuals and in our business.
The power of vulnerability
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a minute to establish what the feeling is that brings us to this stage, and how we can better understand it to move forward and grow.
The point that many of us reach when we are stuck for ideas and hit a block is completely normal and arguably a part of the creative process. The difference is what comes next.
For some, the ability to work out solutions can come naturally, like plucking a previously invisible idea out of thin air.
For others, it requires opening up and accepting that you are stuck and need help.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable opens up new avenues of possibility.
The problem is this term “vulnerability” and the misconceptions around it, especially in business. This is an environment where it is commonly perceived as a weakness.
But what this thought process fails to recognize is that huge potential for growth and expansion of ideas by allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
Working in any team environment, you’ll know how important brainstorming sessions are.
Here’s the question. If whoever it is that’s leading or organizing that session were totally confident in their ideas and approach, do you think they would be inviting other people’s input?
Of course not!
It is because they could first recognize their limitation, which no doubt would have been a cause for stress (cue shift in behavior) but then in accepting and embracing this vulnerability, they can actively seek a solution from their network.
For sure they would have original concepts and ideas—at least you would like to think so from a team member!—but they were not confident in their application.
Unfortunately, we are not all lucky enough to be working in a powerful team of inspiring and trustworthy individuals. Especially these days, many of us are working remotely!
In these situations, we use our vulnerability as a superpower by allowing ourselves to seek outside help and inspiration.
This is where we can utilize the power of a supportive online community.
Use your community to grow
We’re not talking about the chaos (and beauty) of Reddit, but the kind of niche community that you’ll usually find on Facebook.
Facebook groups offer a space where like-minded individuals can share ideas and actively discuss concepts with a sense of benefitting the overall growth of the community. It is a space where everyone contributes so that everyone wins.
Having access to a diverse community that is passionate about a niche can grant you access to a far wider group of people and opinions. Think of it as your digital brainstorming session.
You can use the community both as a source of ideas by looking through what is already being discussed, or equally as a focus group to pitch ideas and concepts without the fear of judgment.
Many of these communities are stringently vetted to deter bots and spam accounts. This also ensures that the quality of information shared will be at a certain level allowing it to properly function as a community. No room for fakes and bad actors here!
The thing to remember is that within this community, and this niche, there are no stupid questions.
While the level of expertise may generally be high, it will be expertise generated by individuals who have come from the same place as you, and can therefore sympathize with your position by offering genuine advice.
In the worst-case scenario that you pitch an idea or ask a question that doesn’t get a response, just delete it!
The most important thing is that once you have joined the community, you also join the conversation.
It’s understandable to be hesitant about being vulnerable at first, but there are ways you can ensure you get the most out of your community.
All of the experiences that you will gain from the community, be they positive or negative, will help direct you towards the solution that you are seeking. They will help frame your ideas within the broader context of users.
It is in this process where real growth occurs.
And once you have broken through these early stages of getting to know your community, there are huge benefits to be had from becoming an active participator such as:
- Improving your organic reach because sharing content on Facebook groups will trigger notifications to all group members improving engagement.
- Generate consumer feedback on products by asking what your community would want to see next with polls or subject threads, or by inviting members of the community to test your product/service.
- Asserting your presence as an expert might be a little more complicated depending on your initial approach, but if you have the right manner and are considered to be a beneficial member of the community, the potential of referral from peers is huge.
Now, don’t those sound like pretty good outcomes from allowing yourself to be vulnerable?
Have a community you can rely on
We often look to leaders for inspiration in what can make us successful in action and thought, and to achieve bigger things in life. But you should never forget that in front of every leader, is a community.
What we look for in leadership is relatability, compassion, sympathy, and tenacity.
Being vulnerable as a leader allows you to step back from the responsibilities and see issues through the eyes of those you are trying to lead. You then invite them to help drive the conversation, meaning that they become more involved and invested.
Remember, you are the leader.
There will always be people looking to you for leadership.
And if you are ready to let yourself be vulnerable and are seeking advice from a powerful community, the Digital Agency Owners Community is a fantastic source of inspiration.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable, take a step back from the task at hand and look to your community for guidance. They are your community as a sounding board, as an influence, as support, and as potential clients.
These are the people who are coming from the same place as you, and they want to see you succeed. Support them, and they will support you back.