I am an Introvert - with a capital “I.” You are probably not aware of that. It often shocks my colleagues when I state that fact because when I am in my comfort zone, I am very outgoing. But when I’m out of my comfort zone…look for me hanging out on the wall observing the goings-on. I’m far more comfortable playing the wall-flower.
Last night I took a GIANT step outside my comfort zone. I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Old Town Alexandria Chapter of the IAAP in Virginia for Administrative Professional’s Day. Being the keynote speaker means, by the way, speaking…in front of people…and not sounding like a complete idiot. Fortunately, as part of my professional development, I have been working with a speaking coach.
The topic for the evening was - surprise! - work/life balance, a subject I am very comfortable talking about anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. Just not in front of a large group of my peers - most of whom I’d never met before; that is simply terrifying. I actually texted my husband just before I began presenting a nice note along the lines of “I think I’m going to throw up.”
Overall I think, for a first timer, I did okay. There are things I need to work on like not becoming best friends with the podium and circulating the room more to meet the other attendees (remember the earlier wallflower comment). I need to rely less on my slides to be my notes (you’d think I hadn’t practiced, but I had! The pre-schooler kept coming downstairs to tell me she liked my “story.” I even have my kick-off story on video!).
On the upside, I think my personal tales of why balance is so important to me resonated with the audience. I hope they did. I believe I gave my audience food for thought on how anyone can have balance if you work at it. Balance isn’t something that happens by accident. You have to identify your priorities, identify what you can and can’t control and work with that to find your center…your personal Life Balance.
Today is Administrative Professional’s Day. As an Administrative Professional myself, I am fully aware of the challenges we face in making our lives balanced. Managers will throw tasks and projects at us at mind-numbing speed and those very same managers just expect it will get done in a timely manner without a thought as to what we have to stopdoing. Inevitably, we will have to stop doing something to start doing something else. Sometimes we sacrifice our lunches to get these tasks done. Other times we stay at the office late or work over the weekend. Sadly, our personal lives are often what suffers. I hope by stepping out of my comfort zone and into the light of the projector that I inspired my audience to step back, re-evaluate and re-prioritize, and define their plan for their balance. I also hope all managers celebrate and recognize the efforts their admins make everyday, not just today.
I am very appreciative to Kemetia Foley and the Board of OTAC for reaching out to me and inviting me to speak. I am equally appreciative of my audience - thank you for sitting through my presentation! And finally, I am grateful my managers agreed to let me take the time out of the office to fly to Alexandria and for their encouragement. It was one of my managers insisting I present at a staff meeting a couple years ago that started to ball rolling on the topic of Life Balance.
Happy Administrative Professional’s Day!