I’ve hit a very busy and hectic time at work. Workshops, brainstorming sessions and stakeholder engagements has kept me busy and working hard. Stress levels are at an all time high.
Having taken over numerous projects that I was previously not responsible for has been both exciting and stressful. Budgeting, planning, strategizing… All taking me completely out of my comfort zone where previously I was in a role where I was known as the expert in my field.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about myself it’s that I don’t want to be seen as a failure (nobody does, I guess). In today’s corporate world, it’s seen as weakness. I’m the type of person who likes to keep ahead of the rest. Highly competitive and wanting to be known as the “specialist’ in my field. I like to be seen as the ‘go-to’ person. Yet lately, I am sitting in the meetings, completely stressed out of my mind. You wouldn’t say so looking at me as I try give off the “I’m bored as hell” look. However, I am dying, especially because the cause of my stress is that it feels as if I am expected to know things – which I don’t. And for me, asking for help would sound like a big giant foghorn that I am weak. I’d get eaten alive!
However, it occurred to me today that I’ve noticed a big shift in my behavior and attitude as I sit in these meetings.
Previously, I looked up to the loud mouths in the room – the bullshitters, the confident entertainers. Those with the gift of the gab, the ones that don’t need to prepare for meetings, the ones who can wing it. They’ve always wow’ed me and I’ve always wanted to be “just like them”. But not anymore….
You see… wanting to be someone I am not, or will never be, will always cause me to be stressed. Pretending to know the answers is not what it’s about.
My attention these days has shifted to learning from those that sit quietly in the meetings, taking down the notes and asking the relevant questions. The ones that do not beat around the bush with fancy talk, corporate jargon that everyone is too scared to ask the meaning of. (latest one I heard was: Let’s tease it out. Huh? Do what?) These are the people that are unafraid to look like they don’t know. They are the ones that ask the questions, exposing themselves and not pretending to have all the answers. I have a lot of respect for them.
And so, I’ve started to put my hand up in meetings. I’ve started to shake my head and say, No, I don’t get it. No, I don’t understand. I’ve started to ask for help…
You see, in order to keep up with the walkers, I’ve realized that I’ll get ahead a lot further if I stop being so scared to ask for help. My colleagues too will respect me a lot more because in actual fact, we are all in the same boat. The world around us is moving at such a fast pace.
Who really does have all the answers? I know I don’t. (OMG, the first step is acceptance, right? I’ve just taken my first step!)