Tuesday Tales: Who You Gonna Call? – Donna Thistlethwaite

How amazing are our networks? I could never be without one … they help us to learn, get things done, access opportunities, improve our wellbeing, and sooooo much more.

Last Thursday night a small committee and I brought together a men’s health event attended by around 90 men and a few awesome lady supporters.

If you’ve organised an event before, you may be familiar with the roller coaster ride in that final month and how the pedal hits the metal in the last two weeks.

“Will they come?”

“Why have we only sold 15 tickets when we want to fill the room?”

“What if a panel member comes down with Covid?”

“What numbers do we tell the venue when we’re such a long way from our target numbers?”

These are just some of the many thoughts that came up for me in the final two weeks.

Thankfully I have a huge network and each of our committee members emailed, texted and/or called to let people know about our event.

I’m not ashamed to admit I reached out to people I haven’t had contact with for years because I did not want them to miss out on an awesome opportunity to participate in important conversations. And hey, it’s great to have an excuse to reconnect.

If it wasn’t for our networks, a fraction of the people would have been in the room last week. People knew and trusted us and were prepared to believe me when I said it’d be an excellent night.

My network delivered our three fabulous panel members and panel chair and guided the selection of the theme for the night. When I decided to change tact to include an MC rather than the chair also covering that role, what saved me? … My network. My mate Graeme jumped in a week out and was brilliant on the night.

If it hadn’t been for my network, we may not have had a photographer either. I awoke on event morning to a text saying that our photographer was in the hospital and unable to make the event. My brain trawled through the photographers I knew and I realised that one of them was a registered guest for the event. Photography is this gentlemen’s side hustle so it was only because we have chatted at drop offs for our children’s play dates that I even knew of his skills and interests. Note the value of communicating with our network.

Now you may not be that keen to organise an event … can’t say I blame you … so let me share another reason why our network is so valuable.

Your network can absolutely boost your resilience, allowing you to THRIVE more in life. Here are a few ideas for leveraging your network for your wellbeing.

  • Create a team of people around you that helps you to free up space in your life and feel supported. Examples could include sharing holiday care with other families, carpooling to school or children’s activities, and a messenger group where friends share useful information or reminders such as tickets going on sale for your favourite band of tomorrow’s class photos.
  • Organise a regular catch up for a group of like-minded professionals. A monthly, or even quarterly, group lunch or breakfast can be a great way to build relationships that can serve as a sounding board, provide professional development and be a source of opportunity. Your network can be one of the most productive sources for your next job. Regular group catchups allow you to be efficient with your time and nurture relationships so that you feel comfortable picking up the phone when you need ideas, a recommendation, or even a favour.
  • Think about what you love to do and consider who else you might know who’d be keen to join you. Maybe it’s a book club. Perhaps it’s a sporting team – touch football, netball, whatever grabs you. Engaging with something that lights you up, coupled with the connection, will have you thriving in no time.

Take a moment now to think about your network … Is it the support it has the potential to be? Is it time to make a call?


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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.

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