This weekend, I’m hosting my own “barn raising” party.
I wish I had come up with this idea myself, but it was actually my friend Cortney Burns who suggested it when I started my divorce process. Cort said "when your papers are filed, we should have a party." The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn't just want a party - I needed a gathering of my support network to mark this important moment. I needed the sisterhood of my most trusted girlfriends to help launch me into this new phase of my life.
For those of you who don’t know what a "barn raising" is, it was a common practice in the 18th and 19th century, when people stored grain and farming supplies in wooden structures for their livelihood. A barn was often too costly and too much human power for any one family to build on their own, so they leaned on their community to pull together on their behalf. In order for the community to come together, an individual would have to raise their hand and ask for help - an act of vulnerability and courage. Members of the community would take turns raising barns for each other.
We all have “barn raising” moments - especially as founders and leaders; we all need to ask for help from our community every so often.
I have a client who just left her full-time job to pursue her startup full-time, and another client who is dissolving her company and plans to rebuild again soon. I encouraged both of them to host "barn raising" parties - to let their people know that they are taking something big on and will need to lean on their people for help along the way.
I'm a big fan of throwing your own party. You can design the event exactly as you need it to build momentum around whatever you need. It's not just a symbolic moment to launch something new or to pivot directions. Part of the beauty of a "barn raising" is the act of raising your hand and signaling that you need support; the magic happens when we gather as a community and lend our tools and strength to someone else.
So, tomorrow night, wherever you are - raise a glass of your favorite drink for me. Together we celebrate this moment of building lives and companies, together.