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The Koala and The Tree Branch

The secret to career success: having a strong support system

Did you know koalas can sleep for 22 hours a day? Nate, my husband, calls me his koala because I have an uncanny ability to take naps. I call him my tree branch because every koala needs a sturdy branch to lean on, right?

One of the biggest contributors to my career successes has been having a strong support system that includes a very supportive partner.

When I first became a manager, I would dissect every other conversation I had with my direct reports and stress about whether I was ruining their careers. Nate listened to all of my anxious thoughts and helped me realize that it was a sign that I cared, an important stepping stone to becoming a great manager.

When I receive recognition for my achievements, I am quick to redirect those accolades to my team. Nate recognizes my desire to celebrate the team, but will take a few moments to quietly celebrate me and my work as well. He reminds me that I'm indispensable when I often feel that I'm replaceable. It is these little reminders that help me combat chronic imposter syndrome.

When I wanted to take time off to explore new opportunities without really having a plan, he encouraged me to do so and to take my time so I could make the best decisions for myself. He even transferred all the payments for our bills to deduct from his accounts so that I wouldn't feel the financial pressures. When I would feel guilty for not being productive that day, he reminds me that it's part of the process.

When I worried about having to split my time in the future between parenting and career demands, and contemplated being a stay at home mom, Nate built a financial model that showed how we could make that happen.

Because I have Nate's support, I am more willing to put myself out there, take risks, and try new things. I'm more willing to fail because he reminds me that it is a great way to learn. With that said, he is also honest with me and will tell me when my ideas need iteration. Because of his encouragement and candor, I continue to grow into the person I want to be.

“The Koala and The Tree Branch” sounds like the title of a fable, doesn't it? And fables always end with a moral, right? The moral of this story is that having a strong support system can help unlock your full potential. It can come in many different forms: partners, family, friends, or coaches. Do you have a sturdy and supportive tree branch? Remember to thank your tree branch(es) regularly.



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