Deep End of the Pool
Have you ever been thrown into the deep end of a pool? One minute you’re safely walking alongside it and the next you’re clawing your way to the surface for fresh air. In that moment, you feel one million emotions; vulnerable, surprised, shocked, or scared. When you breach the surface, you’re definitely angry, but it wasn’t as bad as you thought.
This is basically the emotional roller coaster I was on during my first experience working with Principals and big-wigs at my Firm. Apprehensive when my manager asked me to take this on but delighted when the assignment was complete.
My co-worker Liz is a Rockstar. She does everything from creating award submissions to proofing these blogs. But Liz really let me down set me up for success when her workload didn’t allow for her to work on a PowerPoint presentation for said big-wigs. Now, remember the part in my story when you’re unexpectedly shoved into the deep end? That’s what happened to me.
You’re on Your Own Now
There come’s a point in most people’s careers where you’ll have to step up to the plate. While it may be unsuspecting and surprising, you can’t start flailing. So, for my first lesson: don’t panic.
Don’t get me wrong, when my manager assigned me this task I was panicking on the inside. A million thoughts ran through my head. “I’ve never worked on a project alone for another employee? PowerPoint isn’t my specialty? What if they don’t think I’m capable?”. Then it hit me. My manager wouldn’t ask me to do this if she didn’t think I was capable. The truth is, (most times), you won’t be asked to do something outside your capabilities. You may feel uncomfortable and nervous but it’s your managers job to put you in those situations. After all, how else would you grow?
Fake it ‘Til You Make It
My second piece of advice piggy-backs off the first. Fake it ‘til you make it. I know you’ve heard it 18 million times before, but it’s true. When my manager asked me to take on this project, I could have shown my uneasiness, but instead I mustered up the most faux confident, “Yeah no problem,” possible. If you want to feel more confident, you have to act more confident… which is why you can’t panic. When you do something for the first time, there’s no doubt you’re going to be nervous. It’s natural. But the key to becoming more comfortable in these situations is to practice and prepare.
Be Prepared for Anything
So, the days leading up to the meeting with these guys, I went through every aspect of that 100+ slide presentation. I think I applied the same amount of planning and preparation as Thanos when he was planning to wipe out half the universe #ThanosDidNothingWrong.
Another great way to prepare, regardless if you’re a man or woman, is to think about your appearance for the day. You want to dress in a way which mirrors your confidence (because remember, for all anyone knows, we ARE confident). Ladies, put on that fancy blazer and men, tighten that red power tie and command the room!
So, there I am, I had my best “I mean business” attire on, prepped and ready to take the bull by the horns! But then things took a detour. It’s important to remember things don’t always go as planned. People cancel, reschedule, and change their minds. My final piece of advice is to be able to adapt. If you can adapt to the circumstances, you’ll be more likely to deliver a quality product plus maintain good relationships. Also, if this is your first go around, it’s okay to ask for help from coworkers who have more experience.
Remember, if you stress too much about something before it happens, you basically put yourself through it twice. So, stay calm, conjure up that confidence, prepare, and enjoy the ride! I’ll see you the next time I ask, “Am I Doing This Right?”.