At first glance you might be asking what co-parenting and entrepreneurship could possibly have in common. Well, you may be surprised to learn that the skills required to build a successful business are very similar to the skills required to build successful co-parenting relationships.
The happily ever after story that I had designed for my life as a young woman did not include chapters about divorce, heartache and other people’s children. So, to find myself starting over again in my thirties as a full-time single mother I thought it couldn’t get much worse; but it did.
I had never imagined myself in a blended family crisis.
After many years of living the single life I met a wonderful man and fell madly in love with him. However, he came with a kid and an ex-wife. It was so emotionally exhausting to navigate the waves of protocol when it came to parenting because I wasn’t that child’s mother and yet this child was living with me fifty percent of the time. On the other hand, my new love was living with my kids one hundred percent of the time and I really didn’t like the way he said things or did things when he was parenting them. It was such a difficult time.
I already had successful co-parenting skills but I just didn’t know it.
One day I was reading a business building book for entrepreneurs. I began to read a chapter titled “Fair Exchange Principles”. As I was reading it I could easily see the correlation between these entrepreneurial principles and how they could be applied as co-parenting principles.
More importantly, I began to realize that I could take many of the skills that I had already developed as a successful entrepreneur and apply them to the new role that I played with my partner’s child and the role I wanted my partner to play with mine.
These are the four entrepreneurial principles I implemented that made immediate changes in how I successfully co-parented with my partner:
1 – Sacrifice doesn’t automatically mean you’re losing out
Sometimes in order to achieve success in business you have to give up something that you don’t want to. However, instead of considering it a sacrifice, think about it as an exchange in the short term for a big gain in the long term. The result you want is to discover everyone’s style, triggers and reasoning. The same is true in co-parenting, when you end your need to do it your way you open yourself up to the possibility of learning new strategies. And, as an added bonus, you may realize that the kids will also learn and improve from these new experiences.
2 – Partnership doesn’t always mean equal tasks
In a business partnership you would think that time and effort should be evenly split between all partners but it isn’t always necessary. Most times it is more important to utilize everyone’s abilities to ensure success and results. There is also no magic equation on how much time you should each spend on parenting. Life circumstances often dictate who can do what and when it should be done. Experience, competing responsibilities and availability are all factors that influence your ability to co-parent. There should never be shame or judgement if your partner can’t put in equal time. It doesn’t mean they don’t have the same vested interest or concern in what’s going on. Sometimes it’s just the way it has to be.
3 – The effort required for growth in relationships is continuous
Relationships must continuously be worked on and improved in order to be successful even when they’re going well. For example, if you stop working on a project in your business you’ll discover quickly that the project begins to struggle and eventually fails. Co-parenting works the same way. It is important to continue to grow and support each other as you both navigate the uncharted journey of parenting your children. After all, each child is different and brings to the equation different issues and needs. Furthermore, each parent is different and brings their personal experiences into the complicated mix. The more effort you put in the better you’ll become at learning what it takes to create a win-win for everyone.
4 – Getting it wrong is part of the process of getting it right
As an entrepreneur you may have already experienced that to achieve your desired results from a task or project you’re working on will often require you to do it over and over again, improving with each attempt. Likewise, there are times when no matter what you do to co-parent effectively, it just doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to. But don’t give up. Learning what doesn’t work is an important part of the process in the discovery about what it will take to get it right. When you experience a parenting moment that goes sideways, evaluate what happened. Relationships are fragile things but the more you learn about how people are and what they need, the easier it becomes to see past your differences.
Ultimately the goal you want to create in both business and in relationships is to be the very best at what you do and how you do it. Never underestimate your personal power and all that you can achieve. Your efforts will be worth it.