DJHP / Leaders / Careers
Many years ago, as a young professional, part of an expert team, I was called on to give my first important presentation in a difficult negotiation. The sale was tough. The stakes were high. It was for a highly valued client. We were up against other highly qualified competition and we wanted to win.
I prepared my presentation and materials with all the expertise I could muster, integrating feedback from my superiors and team mates.
Then I mentally played and replayed the argumentative questioning I suspected I’d face. I’d have to think on my feet and defend my point of view. Do it fast, be smart, rat-a-tat-tat. It felt exciting. But the responsibility felt s-c-a-r-y!
Though knowledgeable about my position, my confidence was peppered with the self-doubts found to be common among women. I was young and not fully grown into my own sense of presence and roller-coastered through waves of anxiety.
Amy Cuddy had not yet appeared on TED with her talk about how you just need to fake it til you become it. She had yet to demonstrated her“power poses” and research that allays body responses that can hijack the mind, leaving it blank, voice shaky, weak and knees quivering. Nor had she writtenher bookPresence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges
in which she states that
“Presence is the state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express true thoughts, feelings values and potential. That’s it. It is not a permanent, transcendent mode of being. It comes and goes. It is a moment-to- moment phenomenon.”
At that time in my career, the concept that experiencing failure is important for successwas not popularized and was not really an option in my mind.
Carol Dweck and the power of having a Growth Mindset and allowing “not yet” had not yet arrived in business media.
No. I did not have Amy Cuddy or Carol Dweck or many others accessed with the touch of a finger we have today.
Instead, I had a dream.
The day of the 9 a.m. presentation I awoke to a one of the most vivid pre-awake images I’ve ever had. It was of a huge mechanical cog and wheels. Huge, like a gigantic ferris wheel—right in front of me, the only thing in my vision—so I could not miss it. Beautiful, much like the image above.
Then a very kind firm voice said “All you have to do is your part.”
All I had to do was my part. What a thought.
All you have to do is your part.
Do it as well as as you are able. But no more.
I felt instantly comforted. My body became grounded and calm and remained so. The day, the negotiation, my place in the presentation, in my client’s outcome, fell in place. I did not have to win my client’s project all by myself. I was not in charge of my client’s life or the presentation or even the outcome of the negotiation.
I just had to do my part. Do it as well as I was able, yes. But no more. I was part of something bigger.
I am reminded of this from time to time. When there are many demands on myself or I see the strain in my coaching clients. When it feels like they are carrying the burdens of the world on their shoulders at the job, in life.
Here are some take-aways to help you focus on doing your part:
Remember You Are Part of a Team
Whether you work in a large corporation, a medium sized company or on your own, identify people on your team and think about them, turn to them. They are there for you. Turn to the ones on your work team for safe, constructive feedback. Remember those who are the cheerleaders who love and support you if even from a distance.
Listen Carefully to What is Being Asked of You
Listen first before you jump to conclusions. What is being asked of the entire process or project. What is the objective. Then get very clear about what is being asked of you. Find out how your part fits into the overall plan or puzzle to be solved or tackled. Take time to assess how you think you can achieve your participation, then present it to the powers that be to make sure you are on the same page, that you are not missing any key points.
Everyone Gets the Jitters
Don’t be fooled. Everyone gets the jitters. Some just have more experience. Some have more practice calming their bodies, harnessing their thoughts. You have access to Amy Cuddy and Carol Dweck and many others to give you the data and tips to assist. If you are not familiar, refer to the links provided above.
Do Your Part; Do It Well
Remember that not all of life needs to be lived in the perfectionistic, fast, furious or famous lane. What’s important is to show up. Show up and be present.
Learn From the Nuggets and Move On
Believe me, you will get a do-over. Many of them. Learningto do anything well takes repeated practice. Becoming present is a moment-to-moment phenomenon. Continuously set and work on developmental goals aimed at showing up, no matter how old you are, what generation you are part of, what role or title you hold.
Life is a process. “All you have to do is your part.” Do it well, but no more. This IS going the distance. Learning from the experience, next time you will be even more proficient, maybe a bit more confident and present. And, if you are in the correct space, you’re surrounded by others doing their part and together you are moving small steps or even collective, big visions forward— together.
Dr. Jan Hoistad
Dr. Jan Hoistad is passionate about helping professionals, business owners, partners, and teams develop the skills necessary to achieve success and fulfillment in both their occupational pursuits and personal lives.
Dr. Hoistad has advised countless CEO’s, executives, business heads, entrepreneurs, emerging leaders, partners, teams, and professionals through career transitions and business growth, helping them dig deep so they can find what compels them, live by their values, find their purpose, and achieve their professional and personal goals with intent and confidence.
By helping professionals see that personal wholeness is a means to achieving optimum professional performance, Dr. Hoistad provides her clients the tools to become catalysts for change in their own businesses, careers and lives. They learn to leverage their strengths, build on their expertise, and expand their influence to become true innovators in their fields.
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