Balance! This word has become a buzzword especially in the context of ‘working women’ and how they are in a strife consumed battle to balance all the aspects of their lives. How do we as African women balance it all? I offer you a strategy in this post and it is a concept called ‘the Slash Effect.’
(takes deep breath)
It is safe to say that learning about this concept and reading about it for the past couple of weeks has brought so much vision to my life.
Let me start with a question…When people ask you ‘What do you do?’, does a one word answer come to mind? OR, is there a bit of mumbling, as you try to find the best way to describe ‘what you do’ in a way that this person might understand?
For me, it has always been the latter…. And I struggled to answer this even before I ever had a job.
I hope we can all agree that what you do, actually isn’t always about your job or career. What you do, is actually connected to the intricacies of your life which make you, you. No one else can do what you do in the way that you do it, and so answering that question can be a little tough sometimes because in our world the norm is to be one thing, and one thing that you can comfortably communicate about.
The trouble is, no one is really just one thing!
I used to just give up and say the title of my job, but actually finding out about this concept of the slash effect has really helped me understand two things: that how I see myself is very much how others will see me, and that we can create very interesting dynamics in our lives that mean we can combine all the aspects of ourselves into our ‘what you do’! It is all a matter or being Strategic.
Gail Sheehy says:
‘A single fixed identity is a liability today. It only makes people more vulnerable to sudden change in economic conditions. The most successful and healthy among us now develop multiple identities, managed simultaneously, to be called upon as conditions change.’
She wrote this in 1995, and 22 years later she could not be more correct. To learn more about this read her book: One Person/Multiple Career- How the Slash effect can work for you by Marci Alboher.
What is the Slash effect?
In very simple terms, if someone asks me what I do? I’ll say I work in Finance/Life-Coaching/Writing/Mentoring/Non-Profit. Four slashes and I own every single one of them proudly! The slash effect, is when you can fully embrace all the different aspects of what you spend your time doing! For me there is power is saying it out loud! I am a SLASHER. The issue is so many people have the slash effect, but because the role on the other side might not make money, they disregard it and try to think of it as a side-gig only. That may be so (I mean we all have our side hustles), but embracing your slash just might be the extra step to make it profitable and feeling like you have told the full truth when someone asks you what you do!
Three core reasons to SLASH:
Having a slash in your back pocket can be a wonderful luxury if your primary vocation turns out to be anything less that what you hoped for.
Taking on a hobby as a full time career puts a lot of pressure on it to succeed. Instead, if you take it on as a slash, the pressure to succeed is off! You already have a career so there is a lot less to lose.
Taking on slashes is a personal challenge that shows you just what you are made of!
The first two reasons are from Alboher’s book, such truths! For most of us, it will take time to create a living out of our passions, and for others your passions might not actually earn a living.
Like many things in life the answer here is: WHATEVER. The Slash life is not exclusive to a certain type of passions or jobs; it is completely inclusive as long as it is an investment in something that is in line with who you are!
The ‘What’ in this case depends on two key things: creativity and discipline.
I will use myself as an example here. I guess for me, the question on what to slash took a long time to figure out. In most cases, your slash is literally right under your nose but you just don’t see it that way. I’m blessed to interact with lots of people frequently and I am almost always taking about living a full life. The more people I interacted with, the more the feedback was the same. Apparently people felt inspired by being around me! With the help of a good friend I put two and two together and realised that inspiring people either through speaking or writing was something I wanted to be more intentional about doing. Intentional being a key word here. Many people slash unintentionally their whole life missing out opportunities to add value in the way only they uniquely can.
Anyways that was how one of the slashes was born.
Another way you develop a slash is purely by seeing a need and deciding to be the person to fill it. This is how I gathered my friends and started an NGO. NONE and I repeat none of us have experience, but we have passion and dedication and a willingness to fail and learn along the way. (We also have a lot of help, which is crucial as well)
My work slash (my biggest slash) is the one that is most for me. The other slashes are a lot about pouring out, whereas for work it is really for me and me alone. It is for my personal development, financial stability and it provides a platform to become a refined person. I also just love getting things done, looking professional and being exposed to really smart people.
So in summary, here are some tips on deciding what to ‘Slash’:
- Choose anything, but be clear on the reason. Is it a raw talent? Meeting a need? A niche service? It needs to come from YOU.
- Make sure there is a balance between things you spend your energy on and things you can gain energy from. Life is all about balance, even in a busy slash life.
- Think about the whole picture, and not just the parts. If you work 16 hour days, and are thinking of slashing by running a website that requires 10 hours of reading and writing weekly, think Again. Clearly those are not compatible slashes. You will be exhausted. A slash is meant to elevate you, not cripple you with unattainable obligations.
- CUSTOMIZE- Know your limits and create a platter of slashes that makes you full enough to be satisfied. Not overwhelmed because you’ve eaten too much, or snacking because you are hungry. You know that feeling you get when the food was just enough to fully satisfy you? That nice and easy feeling? Yep..that’s the one you need here. A slash should bring balance and fullness to your life, not stress and angst
- Slash something you are proud of! When I said I own all my slashes with pride in my last post I meant it. They are all fully mine and I chose them!