Have you ever been detached in your job, head down, doing well but not really paying attention? Wondering what you should do next, wanting more responsibility but not really wanting more responsibility? And then it just gets handed to you...
I remember a time in my career when I was doing well, things were running *fairly* smoothly, and I felt like I was on track for success, but hadn’t really made the next big leap and was just focused on keeping my head down and trying to figure out what I was going to do with myself next. I spent a lot of time online shoe and dress shopping and thinking about my dream job (judge on America’s Next Top Model. I would ask you not to judge me, but go ahead - judge me!).
Anyway, I was running late to a meeting, my boss pulled me aside and said: “You know that you are a leader of this business unit, don’t you? We really value you and your efforts. I want you step it up at our next leadership meeting.”
I was sort of shocked as I watched her run off to her next meeting. It felt kind of like a drive-by feedback-ing, but with me left wondering what had just happened.
I leaned against a wall in this dingy hallway and asked myself: “What is different about me today, that wasn’t here yesterday?”
Basically, I was confused. Yesterday, I hadn’t been a senior leader, but today, after a brief hallway conversation, I was suddenly anointed? What? (Seriously. What?!)
I wanted to pull her aside and ask: “Wait, why? I’ve not really been caring that much about my career recently at all. Why now? Seriously. What?!"
And I also sort of wanted to curl up and die because...well, I felt like a complete fraud. Her telling me I was a leader didn’t make me a leader. How was I supposed to suddenly become one overnight? When I got invited to the leadership meetings how was I going to show up as a leader? Would they be able to see inside my head and learn that I felt like I had NO IDEA as to what I was doing? That I felt like I was making it up as I went along?
I realized I was also terrified. I was going to be the youngest person at these meetings, the least experienced, and the most likely (in my mind) to say something completely stupid. What did I need to do? Should I talk more? Make some bold statements? How could I make sure like I showed up strong and in control, and worthy of the position of leadership team? WHAT SHOULD I DO???!!
Friends, it was not a shining moment.
So I did what I always do - I panicked, stared uselessly at my computer for awhile, and then went and bought expensive shoes on my way home (taller heels say better leader, right?).
And then, after wasting a bunch of time wondering if I needed a second pair of heels to really hit the point home (I do love patent leather), I finally got my head in the game.
I realized a few things: