I've discussed this blog with her, and she's given her "OK" for me to mention the issue here, as it may be useful for others.
We talk once a month and in our Skype call this week she asked for some tips on building her confidence at work as she has sometimes felt out of her depth when meeting and greeting visitors to her boss's office, finding it hard to make easy conversation with them.
Before jumping in with some tips, I thought it would be helpful to know why this was the case.
In previous conversations we've discussed the business she is working in and I've ascertained that she has very good knowledge about the industry and the projects her boss is working on. She's fluent in the lingo for the business, and in conversation with me she can acknowledge that she has some really excellent skills that she uses with great applomb in her PA role and she's quick to pick up new tasks. I mentioned this to her - and she agreed that this was all so, but when it comes to talking with people she flounders.
The next couple of things she said struck a chord with me. She said that she has spent a lot of her time at work recently in what can only be described as a sense of mild panic, particularly on days when she knew they were expecting visitors in the office. "I feel like someone is going to spot that I'm no good, that I'm pretending to be this great knowledgeable PA and it's all going to come tumbling down around me when I'm found out" she told me.
I asked when she first felt like this. She hesitated, then said she couldn't remember. I pressed a little further - has it been going on for a few days, weeks, months...? "A while", she admitted, "maybe since November or so."
This was my light bulb moment. I thought back and quickly checked my notes - in our early November conversation she had mentioned the thought of looking for a new job. This was something she talked about very briefly but had then changed the subject. I reminded her of this - and asked might it be something to do with her new-found lack of confidence? Was she seeing visitors to the office as potential interviewers who were seeking to test her ability?
This was her light bulb moment. (I love doing mentoring sessions via Skype rather than just by phone, to be able to see a client think, nod, smile and work something out.)
So rather than spend the rest of the session looking at tips to build confidence in her current work situation, we talked about the possibilities of her finding and applying for a new job. Specifically, we talked about her fears of applying for a job in a different industry and being rejected for not having the right industry background, and how to combat this by learning as much as possible about her desired industry - which would go towards increasing her confidence for attending interviews...
Our Skype sessions are an hour long - and this one seemed to go by in a flash. I'm looking forward to talking with her again next month to see how things are progressing for her.
Thinking about the session again yesterday afternoon, I felt inspired to send out a few tweets for anyone out there who is sharing a fear of rejection for going after something they want. Having written "Brave PAs" I used this phrase as my hashtag for each tweet, as bravery was ultimately the crux of what we were talking about. I'd like to share my tweets with you:
- It's not impossible - or foolish - to go after something you want. Look at your aim, break it down into steps, and start doing it. #BravePAs
- Stepping out in pursuit of what you want takes bravery, yes - but it's far less painful than sitting with 'what might have been'. #BravePAs
- Want a new job? Then look for one. Don't just hope something new will come along. Go out and find it. It won't find you. #BravePAs
- Want to do something differently? Imagine you've done it! Use this to give you the impetus to do it. It's never too late to learn. #BravePAs
- Plucking up the courage to do something new is actually less scary than believing you are stuck in a rut and can never get out. #BravePAs
- Taureans: take the bull by the horns. Leos: get ready to roar. Librans: find a new balance. Whatever your sign, find your strength #BravePAs
- Amongst all things, never let someone else put you down for being who and what you are. Mantra: "I am brave. Hear me roar." #BravePAs
- We all meet those who look down on us as lowly admins, 'only an assistant', 'just a PA'. NEVER be 'just' anything. You're amazing. #BravePAs
- PAs and EAs the world over are exceptionally talented people, supporting their bosses to lead with success. Remember that. #BravePAs
- Remember the mantra: "I am brave. Hear me roar." #BravePAs
Onwards and upwards, peeps! Be brave. ROAR for what you want!