Many months back, I learned my executive nominated me for a very prestigious professional award, and not surprisingly, found myself in a complete state of shock.
Being a notoriously shy introvert, the situation I found myself in boiled down to me conquering three life-long fears: becoming publicly visible – being judged in public – and public speaking.
I also learned that I would have to officially “accept” my nomination in order to advance in the competition, which meant MY action would equal a steadfast commitment to swiftly unearthing numerous layers of embedded life-long discomfort.
I genuinely wondered, could I even do this?
Am I willing to be this vulnerable in a professional environment?
Prior to the acceptance deadline, my mind was flooded daily with an overly thick milkshake of work-life memories. Like Scrooge, I was visited by several ghosts of my administrative past (both welcome and unwelcome) – none of whom were helpful in nudging me on which way to proceed.
In parallel, formidable tumbleweeds of doubt rolled along the hallways of my mind, laden with heavy highlights on the negative experiences of my past. I soon found myself feeling unworthy and deflated.
Do other people experience these anxiety-ridden intersections of personal and professional development?
And why was it starting to feel like my nomination was turning on me?
Then, I began to wonder if other 2020 Admin Award nominees were suffering through similar struggles and considered reaching out to them. Since I did not know any of them personally, I began imagining having daily conversations with them. I pictured myself offering words of encouragement, reinforcement, and support that would transport them out of anxiety, into excitement. I crafted discussions in my head that included words like “allow” and “receive” to lessen their resistance to participation. Dozens and dozens of times a day, I envisioned what talking a peer through my same fear would look and feel like.
Having those imaginary conversations, led me to recall a quote by C.S. Lewis that transported me into a headspace which instantly shifted my mindset:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
And in that moment – something changed. I was out of my head and now had an objective view of my situation and clarity on my choice to move forward. Both of which led to an astonishing dose of personal growth and awareness worth sharing:
- I had been playing small and hiding beneath an invisible security blanket for too long. Now was the time to grow past the fear of public judgement and failure and throw my name into the ring, regardless of who was watching.
- Fear rising means your ego is talking. My ego has at times, kept me comfortably safe and stuck for many years (both personally and professionally). How much more could I have done if I were not afraid of being judged for failing? If I did not judge myself for failing?
- Consciously choosing to stay out of the limelight was only further feeding my insecurities. My work stood on its own and was not up for judgement. Neither was my worth. The deeper lesson of this moment was to embrace the moment for what it was: an opportunity to celebrate my professional contributions to the many I have served.
- Discomfort is temporary, real growth is forever. The more uncomfortable you are, the more you have to gain. Ghosts and tumbleweeds are harbingers of change. Walk straight towards them and watch them fade away.
- Honor your work by believing in its impact and own your role with respect. Until this nomination came along, I had never holistically processed everything I have done or overcome in the 20+ years I have been working as an administrative professional. I was so head down; it did not even occur to me that I had built a credible career out of impactful experiences worth celebrating!
- Action sparks growth. A moment after I pressed send on my nomination acceptance email, I realized I had committed to being fully present for every aspect of this event – and panic seeped in. But those feelings were quickly dissipated by tiny sparks of joy, followed by an unstoppable grin on my face. I took an action to be seen and was immediately overcome with pride for my insta-growth!
- “Maturing” as a person in the business world is so much more than ladder-climbing or finally making your dream salary. It means taking emotional risks to be seen WHILE crafting your career with the end goal of moving around fearlessly.
- With approximately 7.8 billion people in the world, being recognized and celebrated for your accomplishments is a RARE and fleeting honor. Be grateful, remain humble and ALLOW IT, with grace.
If I had never received a nomination, there is no doubt I would be and feel differently than I do right now: I am ENGAGED, PRESENT and EXCITED about conquering three major fears at a public event!
For that, I am wholeheartedly thankful for this opportunity of recognition created by the Admin Awards. No other professional organization has ever impacted me in such a life-changing and profoundly positive way, and I cannot wait to celebrate the collective accomplishments of all Nominees!!!