I'm fresh off another round of Leadership Training and feeling pretty good about life! There is something about taking the day away from the daily grind to enlighten yourself, vent with colleagues, and talk about the big picture, your hopes and dreams, strategic plans, and where you see yourself in 5 years.
Today was a Super Easy Brain Day, one of my favorite kinds of days. We listened to interesting people speak, got a campus tour and listened to more people speak and got to ask questions. I did not have to delve deep into my soul to find my inner confidence. I did not have to think critically about my conflict resolution style. I did not have to come up with a fully developed program proposal PowerPoint presentation with 12 diverse colleagues in 90 minutes. Easy. Brain. Day.
I did notice something today, however, something that relates to my fear of small talk-laden, awkward, networking events.
I am afraid of important people.
I don't know what to say to them.
They are just so. Important.
For example, I lived in NYC for 7 years. I saw numerous celebrities. I once crossed the street in tandem with an off-duty Mr. Big from Sex and the City and barely glanced in his direction (I was super cool about it, I'm sure). I simply do not care to bother important people, whether they are famous, or not.
Obviously, if I hope to advance in life, this is clearly a serious problem. You have to rub elbows. Schmooze. Shake hands, kiss babies. You have to be a politician. You have to play "The Game." When you cross paths with a Senior Vice President of Everything, you can't just shrink in the corner and go about your business. You must shake their hand and make small talk and try not to say anything stupid or choke on a cracker or spill something on yourself.
So imagine, having read my previous post (because you're so up on my life, right) you can tell this is already an issue for me with Regular Folk. Adding on a layer of I Could Fire You Right Now I'm so Important, Esq. and you really have me thrown for a loop.
So the core issue remains the same - working on my confidence, following those handy dandy tips I laid forth about conquering awkward introductions and exchanges with strangers. So what layer do I add on?
Today was great because A) I am just exhausted and B) It was an Easy Brain Day. I had the pleasure of watching a presentation on the concept of marketing, something I am extremely familiar with and was pretty dern good at before changing career paths to something I like waaaay better. So I'm like, yeah I got this. So when the Super Important Person (SIP for you cool kids) finished his presentation I had no problem asking him, "So, do you watch Mad Men?"
I guess this goes back to my need to be "the expert." I am totally cool when I know my ish. Recently, I was giving a presentation in a class, one that I have been doing since the Dawn of Time (in this career at least). I could basically give this talk with my eyes closed. The professor pointed out to the students that I was good at public speaking because I knew the material so well and that it's something they will learn in time, the more they practice. And I was like, "Yeah, I am pretty good at this." So that was refreshing and comforting to hear and was a huge booster shot to the old confidence.
If I can be freakin' fantastic at something I am really knowledgeable in, chances are I will be at least decent in something I am not so knowledgeable in. They key is to not be afraid of looking or feeling stupid. It's okay to ask questions. In fact, people just love when you ask them questions. They love to talk about themselves. I mean, look at me and this whole blog! Ask me anything! I need to spend more time listening and less time trying to figure out what to say or pretend to know everything.
SIPs got to where they are because they are very knowledgeable and they probably mustered up the courage to get in the good graces of other SIPs. They probably listened, asked questions, and took risks. They took a chance that they may look dumb or choke on a cracker or spill something on themselves. And they took the time to talk to me and my colleagues today, because obviously they know how much it means to share their knowledge with the next generation of leaders. And for that, I am grateful.
Nice to meet you!
I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!