Cara Hicks is the founder of The MOMentum Network, a nonprofit organization that harnesses the power of the “village” to help single moms build a better future. She was a former single mom at the University of Georgia and is now married with four children. The MOMentum Network currently offers leadership workshops, life groups, ladies nights out, and other resources for single moms and their children in Chattanooga. Visit their website for more information on upcoming events.
When I founded a social startup almost 18 months ago, my confidence was shaky, but I knew I couldn’t ignore the calling.
I had past experience as a nonprofit leader and knowledge in the area I was going to serve in – but starting an organization from scratch with no funding AND being a busy mom of three (now four) was intimidating and almost crazy to me. I also knew firsthand how it felt to walk alone as a single mom and what a difference a strong “village” could make. So I took a leap of faith and pressed on.
After years of servant leadership in business, my community, and my home – I thought I’d come along and help women cultivate community, but the coolest thing is that now my personal community is more beautiful, diverse, and powerful than ever before.
Here are 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From My Village
- Connection is key to success. I once believed that strong women were independent, but I’ve come to realize that being alone is far less effective than working together. Real connections pull you out of your comfort zone and require authenticity.
- Communities are better when they’re diverse. The women in The MOMentum Network come from different backgrounds and have different gifts, but we learn so much from each other and get more done when we work together.
- Commonality can create social collateral. When we look for goals we have in common, and all work together to build a better future, not just for ourselves – but for our children and community. We keep each other focused, build one another up, and get stronger faster.
- Challenges and conflict are good. Overcoming barriers and working through conflicts builds tenacity and stronger relationships. When you don’t give up, and even embrace challenges, you develop grit and grace that others may not get the chance to experience. Our biggest challenges have also been our greatest assets. After working through our most difficult conflicts, I’ve discovered the most beautiful relationships.
- Comparison isn’t always bad. Know what unique gifts you offer and what makes you stand out from the crowd. Don’t let comparison cripple you, – let it help you recognize what you bring to the team.
- Cut ties with the critics. There is a real phenomenon called “crabs in a bucket” used to describe a person or subculture that does everything in its power to destroy the ambitions of those among them who wish to improve themselves. I’ve seen it and, unfortunately, have experienced it on my journey as a woman who is trying to change the course for women. While some relationships are worth fighting for, there are other ties that just should just be cut.
- Continue to ask for help. Through learning the power of curiosity, mentorship, and delegation, I’ve become stronger and more aware of the gifts, passions, and kindness of others.
- Care about the outcome of your work. This has kept me motivated when I wanted to give up. Knowing that I’m making a difference in the lives of people who will live on far beyond me is a wonderful motivator.
- Children matter. I respect people at all ages and stages, but it’s been awesome to integrate my children into my work. They offer feedback on programming and connect with the other kids in the program. Everything we do is about making our communities more kid-friendly.
- Control is a myth – we can never actually have it. I remind the folks I work with that yes, we’re created as capable beings, and yes, hard work brings great rewards – but trying to have control almost always results in disappointment. The biggest game changer for us happened when I found myself stuck in a corner and had to rely fully on faith to take the next step. It’s awesome to know I don’t have to try to control everything.
So embrace the adventure! Step out of your comfort zone and find your people! Because together – we can change the world.