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Guest opinion: Create your web


By Teri Sporer | Chief operating officer/shareholder, Holmes Murphy

When I say “web,” I’m going way back before the Internet. Many of you have heard of the black widow and the story “Charlotte’s Web” — both were important messengers and figured out quickly what they wanted and developed strategies for how to achieve their goals. Often in our lives and careers, we as females have complex and multiple priorities and opportunities to consider.

So how do we weave our web successfully?

We read and hear a lot these days about helping each other fix our crowns, find mentors or develop relationships to find our way through all the things life throws our way. Do we do this more naturally than our male counterparts, or do we wait passively on the sidelines until someone asks us to step up? We do both, of course.

I recently saw a TV commercial where a male finds out in a room filled with people that he has been made partner while the female who thought she was poised for the position is disappointed yet again and decides to seek the help of a talent acquisition firm. We have all been there — many of us have probably sought the same route of exiting what could have turned out to be a great company with many opportunities. There was simply a hole in the web.

It’s about balance. It’s about ensuring we don’t set our sights on something without a strategy and a web. When a door closes, a window opens, and all those clichés are not enough to keep our eyes on the prize. As life changes and we mature, we often look back on these scenarios with a bit of a different slant.

For some reason, I was always a young lady who resisted the notion of cliques and striving to surround myself with the same types of people. I have tried to examine this time and again in my life in an attempt to figure out why. It was purely an accident early in life. I now think I have the answer — if I had a group of all the same friends in a small circle, I was making myself too vulnerable. What if suddenly I didn’t wear the right clothes or date the right boys? Worse yet, what if the “queen bee” decided she didn’t like me anymore?

That was just too much pressure for me, and the fear of feeling lonely led me down a path to always ensure I cast my net more broadly. This meant I learned from a lot of different perspectives and gained a wide array of skills from many diverse groups of people. We can use this often in the workplace to ensure that we haven’t relied on just one path or one person as we build our work web.

Tolerance and acceptance became a big part of my life and have allowed me to endure these types of disappointments with grace and perseverance. Don’t let other people’s decisions, actions or ideas knock you out of your web. Just keep strengthening your web and build your work team with the same concepts to ensure you have a well-rounded set of strengths and capabilities so your customers get the best outcomes.

You see, the right web includes family, friends, co-workers, mentors, detractors and foes. It’s all those who give us the strength and power to get what we ultimately built our web for. Embrace tolerance as a skill, and don’t shy away from those who are different or strange to you. Acceptance is built over a lot of experience and includes accepting and embracing those disappointing moments with grace and allowing them to motivate you to go even further. Flee violence, flee oppression, but never flee disappointment — turn to your web and write your own story.

Teri Sporeris the chief operating officer for the Holmes Murphy enterprise-wide property casualty division. In this position, Sporer is responsible for setting the strategic direction for the property casualty service team to ensure Holmes Murphy meets customer needs and sales commitments.Connect with Teri on LinkedIn.

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