This week in the Shaker

A spark ignited
Lisa Portolan
Sat 12 Oct

This week at The Shaker, we're talking about mental health. It's Mental Health Month in Australia, and at The Shaker we were keen to shine a light on such an important issue, and dedicate a week of our work and writing to it. Our core audience are people who would describe themselves as entrepreneurs, business owners (small, medium and large), agitators, innovators and disrupters. People that want to affect change - make a difference, but also create and build something. Sometimes that can be an incredibly singular journey, one traversed only by you. It can be a thankless one too. It can be one filled with anxiety and stress.

Statistics indicate that one in five business owners have sought help for mental health issues. 

Mental Health Month is celebrated each year in the month of October in NSW. The aim is to encourage all of us to think about our mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether or not we have a lived experience of mental ill-health. 

The key theme for this month is: Share the Journey. Now, it has been the theme for Mental Health Month for two years, and that doesn't come down to a lack of creativity! Sometimes it's important to stay on message, so much so, that it starts to permeate the ethos of a society and also our collective mindset. 

Sharing the journey means telling your family and friends when things are getting a bit tough, or even a complete stranger. It's about sharing your story, making connections within the community, and reaching out for help and support. That might mean finding a health professional that can help you with your needs, connecting with people on social media, or finding information online. 

Ultimately, it's about speaking your truth. And maybe that's scary. We all have this closeted fear that if we speak of our darkness, we might be revealing something incredibly incriminating about ourselves. That we're not okay. That we have failed. That we're struggling. 

It reminds me of the opening line of Dante Aleghieri's Divina Commedia (The Divine Commedy), it reads: "Nel mezzo del cammin della nostra vita mi ritrovai in un luogo oscuso ... che la diritta via era smarita." No, we don't expect you to know how to speak Italian. Loosely translated, "In the middle of our lives, I find myself lost in a dark place ... the direct path was gone." The contradictions in tense and pronouns is not a mistake, it's intentional. We all live the same human experience, but when we find ourselves lost, it is often alone. As a singular entity. The individual. 

Sharing our story is so incredibly important to understanding that it is not only a singular struggle but a collective one. That we can share, contribute, understand each other, and help each other. 

Together we are stronger. 

Sharing is not a one way street. It implies joint contribution. If we bring our own story, we must also be willing to hold space for others. What does "holding space" mean? It means listening to someone else's story, with open ears and with open heart, and with a lack of judgment. Holding space means genuine and unfettered compassion. 

And that's what we all need to bring to our mental health journey: compassion for ourselves and compassion for others. 

This week we'll be hearing our contributors share their mental health stories. From them we learn. Indiana Holley, behavioural specialist and owner of Three Feathers Wild will share her story, as will Bianca Way (wedding celebrant turned real estate agent), and her insight on the link between sugar and anxiety. Rob Way, Business Executive from Chalfont Consulting, the power of prioritising, and finally Barbara Wilson, fitness guru, more exercise tips for entrepreneurs. 

We'll also be covering the Spark Festival in Sydney, one of Australia's largest innovation and leadership festivals. We've got you covered on topics from Robotics, to Bitcoin and a whole heap more, and we'll be participating in the Innovation Games scheduled for the 15th October. 

It's a big week - and they probably all are. 

So here's a mantra to get you started: Compassion + Ignite.