In my recap of Executive Secretary Live London, I mentioned that one of the things that resonated most with me was Jasmine Freeman asking, “What are you telling yourself that simply isn't true?” It was a reminder for me that our perception of ourselves is often far from reality and that it was time for me to check in on reality vs. perception. This is an exercise I do by giving my network a homework assignment. I ask questions to obtain their perception of me and compare their answers to the story I’m telling myself.
The first time I did this exercise was about 10 years ago while job seeking. I was researching common interview questions and one that was giving me anxiety was “Give three adjectives to describe yourself.” I decided to utilize my network and posted a request to my friends on Facebook to give one adjective they would use to describe me. Some of their answers I expected: Loyal, Caring, and Generous. Others blew my mind. Fearless. Creative. Social. These were words I would NEVER have used to describe myself, yet my friends used them over and over. It sparked some interesting conversations and forced me to take a long hard look at how critical I was being of myself.
A life changing shift in my paradigm happened two years ago in Susan Leahy’s Leadership Bootcamp. Susan spoke to how much we all dislike boxes and labels, but how we need to accept responsibility for putting ourselves in the biggest and most confining boxes in which we often sit. BUT, we can change that by throwing out the stories that do not serve us. We have to remember that we are not the stories we tell. We are the stories we CHOOSE to tell.
The powerful lesson I took away was that I needed to move out of the boxes I wasn’t comfortable in and move into boxes I had built. For example, the story I told myself a couple of years ago was I was not good at networking because I am very shy. Yet my friends kept telling me I was “fearless” and “social.” I had to reexamine my reality. The new box I built is that I’m an extroverted introvert. I’m actually pretty good at networking, as long as I remember to schedule downtime to recharge my internal battery.
I ask you to take a look at your boxes. Are you sitting in a box that someone else built for you? Do you believe your perception as gospel? Are you willing to do a little research into how others perceive you? Start by giving your network a little homework. Ask them for two or three adjectives they would use to describe you. Or maybe ask what talent you have they wish they had. Or ask what skills they believe come easily to you. You may be surprised to find how different their perception of you is from your own. I know I was.
I believe the way people view us is often a reflection of how we view ourselves. Talking to my peers I'm frequently shocked and saddened by how many feel their role has little or no value, or that they are not respected. Under the category of things I know for sure, I know the role of the assistant IS a valuable one. But how can we get others to see that if we don't believe it ourselves? How do we get our bosses to believe in us if we don't believe in ourselves?
I’ve been in administrative support roles for just shy of twenty years now. I’ve had roles ranging from entry level administrative support to executive assistant to the CEO and have always been a valuable member of the team. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have worked with executives who understood the value I brought to the equation and utilized me to the point their trust intimidated me. I’ve also had the misfortune to work with two executives who refused to provide me with the information and tools to be successful. Those executives viewed my role as insignificant and thought executive assistants were a dime a dozen. Worse, they saw the role as a place to lay blame when they messed up. I didn’t last long with one of those executives. The other I managed to change their mindset and partner with them as a strategic business partner.
My goal, my passion and my dream is for all assistants to understand the value they bring and the importance of their role. If you believe you are “just an admin” that is how you will be viewed. When you embrace the significance of your position, others will as well.
travo.com/for-adminsTravel planning can be a frustrating task, especially if you support multiple executives. Each traveler has unique preferences and as travel planners we need to think through each step of the journey as if we were the traveler in order to predict all of their needs. Now there is help!! Last month TRAVO released their breakthrough web application designed to create customized itineraries around an event, meeting, or conference.
During the design phase, TRAVO reached out to many of the top admins to determine what features they needed to become a valuable tool for administrative assistants and travel coordinators. Based on the feedback they received, they incorporated many admin-specific features in the roll-out and are still adding valuable tools, such as the ability to export to Outlook.
TRAVO saves valuable time. You now longer need to utilizing many different websites to compare flights, lodging, and ground options, TRAVO does it all for you in an instant. Once you’re crafted the perfect itinerary, you can export it to the traveler’s calendar or as an editable word document.
TRAVO is easy to use. Simply enter the dates, times and locations of the desired meetings and/or events. TRAVO then scans over 800,000 hotels, flights and ground transportation and millions of potential itinerary combinations to present a suggested itinerary. You are then able to customize and finalize your bookings through one of TRAVO’s partners or send the itinerary to your corporate travel partner to book.
For more information, please go to TRAVO’s Admin webpage to watch a video tutorial explaining how TRAVO can help you.
If you have any comments, suggestions or features you'd like to see them develop, please comment below or email me and I'd be happy to pass them on to the TRAVO team.
The Audacious Admin is Debbi L. Shaffer, an outgoing, resourceful and highly motivated executive assistant with 20 years of experience specializing in C-Suite Executive Support.