Q & A with Lily Cheng, founder of The Rising Network

As National Mentoring Month comes to a close and as we start the month of February with International Boost Self-Esteem Month, it’s important to take a moment to remember that self-care should be for life to maintain good mental health.

In this Q&A below, Lily talks on the power of supportive networks, leaning on others and offering mentorship to lift others, and why finding fulfilment in your life is key to happiness.

Tell us how The Rising Network started

The idea was really born years before I even had the idea of founding a supportive network of women focused on wellness and career inspiration.

Like many, after university I went straight into a job as I thought I ‘ought’ to do – not realising that not understanding what my passions were and not reflecting on the type of life I wanted to lead, would lead me to burnout, overwork, losing any sense of purpose, and sacrificing my self-care. I’d found myself living on autopilot – I was just “doing”, not living. I never stopped and paused and I definitely wasn’t thriving!

How did that lead you to found The Rising Network?

In 2012, I hit a major crossroads in both my personal and work life. I went on a quest of self-discovery to reconnect with myself, my purpose and my passions.

First of all, I had to learn to put ME first.  My career and life choices were meaningless without purpose and I was in no fit state to be the best version of myself if I wasn’t nurturing myself.

That day, the Rising Network was born and I have never looked back because it gave me a sense of belonging within a community, where everyone is encouraged to thrive in the life they choose.

What is it about The Rising Network that makes it so powerful?

The overarching aim for the Network is to empower women to reach their potential, and to achieve happiness and balance in all areas of life. 

Its strength lies in the community – it’s supportive and full of women who want each and every person to succeed.  They are generous with their time, praise, support and expertise; they lift each other up.

When I came to that life crossroads, that was exactly what I needed, but in 2021, it just didn’t exist.  I feel proud to have built a space in which the Lily of 8 years ago would have thrived!

Do you have a favourite part of The Rising Network programme of events?

One of my favourite parts of the programme is the mentoring opportunities on offer.  These really embody my vision for the Network when I set it up, as you have women with different life experiences offering each other supportive advice and self-development coaching.  The Rising Network is so far away from a traditional networking or professional mentoring organisation – we have fun, we look at life in the round, we think about you as a person as well as you in your career.

And mentoring feels more important than ever, because of COVID.  People – especially women – are being put under so much additional stress.  Having the support of a knowledgeable network to coach you through those challenges is essential.

This year, for The Rising Festival, we’ve included mentoring circles on the issues which are most relevant to women at the moment – self-care for anxiety, using your support system, and how to maintain work-life balance.  We’ve heard from our members that this is exactly what is needed.

I’m so conscious that The Rising Festival isn’t until March though, which is why we’ve put on an additional two sessions of mentoring; Building your Personal Brand and How to Juggle Work and Family during COVID-19,  at the beginning of February to help women right now.

So what are your top tips for learning to thrive in your life?

  • Always put yourself first – you know that advice on aeroplanes where they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first? You cannot help other people unless you’ve helped yourself to a good place first.
  • Really do the deep thought work and look inside to understand who you are – self reflection and connecting with yourself is key to finding clarity, direction and purpose.
  • Action is where the magic is – you have to commit and take action in order to.
  • Live your passion and follow your dream – channel the world’s most successful people!
  • Self care is giving yourself permission to pause – a habit I created and continue to mindfully follow as it’s so easy to stay on the treadmill of life, forgetting to step off and for autopilot mode to kick in.
  • Get yourself a mentor! This doesn’t have to pay someone to coach you, but it does need to be a person you respect and trust implicitly.  They’re going to guide you through your biggest challenges and celebrate your greatest successes. It can be difficult for women to find a mentor which is why we created our Mentoring Circles providing access to rich insights, mentorship and advice.