Tomorrrow marks the third anniversary of the Afri-love Women community.
I started it on a whim, one sleepless night, a couple of months before my son was born. I’d wanted to start a Facebook group for a while but, I wasn’t clear on a purpose and so I let it be.
Thankfully, pregnancy insomnia was pretty productive for me (I also created the Soulful Branding Challenge course during this period!). On the night in question, after futile attempts at comfort, with all sorts of pillow configurations, Afri-love Women was born.
In the past 3 years, I have gained SO MUCH from the women in the group. The diversity of our members’ locations, backgrounds, experience, creative disciplines, perspectives and more – makes for such richness.
As I celebrate this little space on the internet, I would like to share three threes.
3 lessons learned
When you’re clear about your purpose, you easily attract your tribe
Afri-love Women is a safe space for real talk amongst creative African Women. Women who are as committed to their professional excellence as they are to self-care.
As much as I see my role as to facilitate conversations, the Afri-love Women group quickly took on a life of its own. Sometimes I’m away for a few days, only to find such vibrant exchange taking place in my absence.
I set the parameters and I set the tone, the rest seemed to happen by itself. In three years, I have only once had to caution somebody about posting content that’s not in the spirit of the group.
People want outlets to be vulnerable
I started things off in the group, with being very real. I shared openly in a way that I don’t on any other “public” platform. Others responded by doing the same.
It made me realise how many of us are craving safe spaces to speak the truths of our experience – not just the shiny, edited versions we post on social media. I see the group as a bit of a sanctuary – for highly competent women to relax and just be human beings.
More and more, I appreciate the power of vulnerability (thanks Brené Brown for normalising it) and my experiences with Afri-love Women reinforce this, time and time again.
Your voice matters
There are probably hundreds of millions of communities out there, for every interest group under the sun! That doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for your particular perspective on things that may already exist.
I mean, how much more typical can it get than professional excellence and self-care? Still, I was missing the kind of space that I wanted for myself. So I created it!
3 most popular topics
The following are the three most popular topics from these three years, as determined by the number of relevant comments received. I share links to check them out but please note, you’ll need to be a member to access the content. If you haven’t already joined, you can request to do so here.
An ongoing thread where we share things we want/need/are looking for, so that others can share their recommendations, contacts, ideas etc. with us. Follow it here.
Years ago, I decided to never do speculative work. You don’t go to the doctor and then pay only if you like your diagnosis. You pay for their expertise, regardless of what the outcome is. Why should it be different for creative work?
After receiving yet another request for spec work, I initiated this discussion and shared my email response for members to use as a template. Check it out here.
Following earlier conversations exposing how many of us struggle with asking for help, this thread was initiated to give members permission to share what they need support with right now. Whether in their professional life, with their business, or to do with their personal life.
The thinking was: with over 700 kick-ass ladies in this group, you never know who may have a solution, recommendation, contact, idea or new perspective for you! Get involved.
3 reasons to join a personal and/or professional growth community
There are so many ways in which we can experience community. With our families, related to our beliefs and pastimes and even around our school or our children’s.
There is something to be said for joining a community that is explicitly dedicated to your personal growth. I think I first experienced this with one of my best friends, Crystal, when we were still in university. We decided to have weekly meetings to share how we were working on ourselves and give each other ideas and encouragement.
Fast forward more than 15 years and I’ve had a variety of positive experiences, along these lines: with a mastermind group; as a member of a women’s business networking group; and now, running my own networking club for female founders – the Afri-love Connection Club; and of course, running the space in question today, which combines personal and professional growth – Afri-love Women.
If I can sum up the top 3 benefits I’ve gained from such communities:
You’re not crazy and you’re not alone. When you’re an ambition person, you will often experience friction – whether overtly or not – with people in your daily life. They will question your choices because you’ve insisted on following the path of most resistance!
It’s easy to get discouraged, especially when things are taking time to bear fruit. As much as you may believe in your vision and have faith that the small actions are building up to the shift you desire, your well-intentioned friends and family can really put a damper on your excitement and momentum. You might even start doubting yourself!
Having a community of like-minded people is priceless. They see the magic in your kind of crazy because they possess the same. They know what it’s like on those friendly and familial streets and they can rally behind you, in support of your big dreams.
On the lonely journey to following your big dreams, there is often nobody else tracking your progress. And because this dream-chasing is often seen as being/doing extra, it’s easy for us to push it to the bottom of our priority list.
Stating your intentions to your community, instantly creates a sense of accountability that gives you a kick up the behind. When you publicly declare what you’re going to do, you are more likely to follow through. You want to maintain your integrity :).
What better place to make such commitments than amongst a group of people who are supportive, encouraging and are ready to deal the right balance of tough love when you need it.
Sharing your successes, activities, learnings and ideas with others helps to inspire them to keep going. Each week on the Afri-love Women group, we have a Shine your light thread where I encourage everyone to share what they’re proud of, what they’re achieving, what they’re creating and what we need to see.
Reading those entries never fails to warm my heart and to remind me what an amazing group of women I am blessed to be in the company of. The drive, the skill, the vision, the moves – I am inspired each time, to up my own game.
So, see you over in the Afri-love Women group? 🙂
Over to you – what communities are you loving and what inspired you to join them?