Why Don't You Ask for Help? One Woman Knows How to Overcome This Challenge and Achieve a Work-Life Balance
Whether it's a higher salary or more help at home, women struggle with support. Elayne Fluker, an author and podcast host, has the secrets to overcoming this common problem.
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The road to entrepreneurship can be a challenging one and, for women in business, it's made even harder due to a lack of support. Elayne Fluker is determined to change that. After a 20-year career in the media industry, she launched her very own podcast, "Support Is Sexy;" to date, she's interviewed over 500 women from all over the world about their businesses, including lessons on how other women can empower and reinvent themselves.
"A lot of women feel that in order to prove our worth or that we've 'made it,' you have to somehow do everything by yourself," says Fluker in explaining what she calls "I've Got It" syndrome, which she characterizes as being unable to accept support that is offered. "Having it all doesn't mean doing it all alone." Fluker even admits to this pitfall in publishing her newly released book on the topic, Get Over "I Got It": How to Stop Playing Superwoman, Get Support, and Remember That Having It All Doesn't Mean Doing It All Alone ($17.99, amazon.com). "I had to walk my talk," she says. "I had to ask for support." To that end, Fluker tapped her very own Facebook group with over 400 members, to find a book agent; someone offered the name of an author-turned-agent who was looking for submissions. And to Fluker's surprise and delight, it was someone she knew already. "That was a telling example of asking for support," she says, "because you never know—it might be supposed that you just missed, or didn't see, but that opportunity is there."
Overcoming this automated self-reliance may sound simple to remedy but Fluker knows that, for many women, it's just not that simple. She points out that, in a society where women are still fighting for equality on all fronts with their male counterparts, being perceived as inadequate against set expectations on the work front can be devastating for their career advancement. "As women, at least in the United States still, we get paid less than men just because we're women," she says, citing statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor. Although salary compensation for women lags behind that of our male counterparts in the United States (for every average dollar white men earn, women earn just 82 cents, which Fluker points out represents a loss of $1 million over the course of their career for women of color), oftentimes we are expected to be the problem-solvers both at home and in the office. It's this same "unapologetically ambitious woman" who, Fluker says, has the hardest time asking for assistance.
If you find yourself longing to make moves, Fluker offers her advice on how to achieve goals in your career by leaning into your support system.
Be aware of your habits.
Fluker says that once she became aware that she herself suffered from "I Got It" syndrome, things started to shift in her life. Of the tendency to overburden yourself (and possibly suffer unnecessarily as a means to progress), Fluker admits, "It's something that I have to constantly get over, for sure. It's a continuous practice."
Show up for yourself.
Flukers believes that tennis star Naomi Osaka bowing out of the French Open to maintain her mental health was a powerful example and message for all women to witness. "That was [Naomi] showing up for herself, so that's what support also looks like," says Fluker. "Showing up for yourself—whether that's healthy boundaries, saying no when you need to, sometimes saying 'yes' when you need to, taking a break—whatever that looks like for you, that's showing up for yourself."
Make meaningful connections.
During the pandemic, Fluker created a series called "The Wine Down," wherein she invited women to connect and share their personal experiences. During a recent trip to Mexico, Fluker says she was encouraged to explore her dream of living abroad after witnessing her friend and fellow entrepreneur, Akinah Rahmaan, founder of Banana Skirt, thrive following her big move to Mexico. While there, Fluker met Nubia Younge, founder of Black in Tulum, and says the experience not only broadened her network, but opened up new professional opportunities.
Define what matters to you.
Fluker believes that too many women are operating from a stance of whether they "should" do something ("Should I do this? Should I do that?") and, in the process, diminishing their own personal power. "What success looks like for me is going to look different than what success looks like for someone else," she offers. She offers several exercises in her book, one of which is taking stock of the various aspects of one's life (financial, spiritual, health, relationships, work) and deciding what really matters, getting clarity on the vision, and identifying steps to create that vision. "For me, success is fulfillment," she adds. "I help women embrace support and feel fulfilled."
Have a mindset open to possibilities.
In one of the chapters of her book, Fluker shares the work of Dr. Srini Pillay who believes, "It's not about what's probable, it's about what's possible and what's possible is completely open." Fluker says she's examined for herself what the possibilities are for her life quite a bit in the last year, and she's grateful that she can work from everywhere. "What's important to me is making sure my parents are safe and taken care of, which they are," says Fluker. "Maybe I move to Mexico for a few months, or a few years, and work from there. I don't know, but I'm open to the possibilities."
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