The difference between Average and Awesome
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”
Charles Caleb Colton
I know the topic of being Authentic has been covered many times and a quick Google search will yield many results but I would like to add my 5 cents worth (read “rant”).
I have come across several instances of late where imitation is irritating and quite frankly it’s sad. I don’t believe for one minute that people cannot come up with original ideas. Everyone is unique, their lives shaped by unique experiences and their thoughts moulded by unique encounters so why is it necessary to imitate others. Are you simply too lazy to apply your mind?
Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with sharing provided it’s for a good cause, you give credit where credit is due and you do not have anything to gain from it personally. NEWS FLASH … If you take a masterpiece, colour out the artist’s name and insert your name, the masterpiece still belongs to the original artist. It does not belong to you.
If you persist in taking ideas created by others you might ride the crest of the wave for a while but it has been proven time and again that you will return to being average at best and at worst, you will crash and burn.
If you persist in taking ideas created by others you are akin to a thief … not only are you stealing ideas but you are robbing the world of you. You are not sharing your unique colour pallet with the world. There is only one you and if you are too ashamed of you to show your true self (colours) to the world, spend some time working on you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." This is true but I don’t think we can only lay blame at the world’s feet. I implore you to stop trying to be someone else, stop taking someone else’s work, concepts, ideas and art … set up your own easel, take out your own brush, colour your own authentic life and be AWESOME!! (end of rant)
Help from the ♥
You see someone drowning in deadlines, frantically searching for documents, running from pillar to post, snowed under or just looking overwhelmed so you offer to help. A colleague approaches you, sometimes in desperation, asking for assistance in order to get a job done that they are struggling with for one or other reason so you say “yes”.
STOP and examine your motives … Are you genuinely being helpful, genuinely trying to ease their burden, genuinely helping them keep their head above water or do you have an ulterior motive?
At some time during our working lives we have or will be in a position where we rely on others for help. Actually, if we’re brutally honest we could not function efficiently without assistance from others be it advice, physical input, guidance, moral support, a shoulder to cry on, someone to lean on etc. Even asking a colleague to answer your telephone while you duck to the kitchen or to give you the contact number for their caterer is asking for help. It is virtually impossible to operate in isolation.
So you step up because that’s what you do. You go the extra mile, put in an extra hour or two, put your own “not urgent” work on hold, extend your hand and help. Incredibly noble and no doubt sincerely appreciated by the one being helped. STOP and examine your motives.
If you are “helping” and then blabbing at the water cooler about how much you do to help, blow your own trumpet at every opportunity, tell others how useless the individual is because they can never meet a deadline or making sure the boss knows you are the one responsible for achieving the goal, then you are not helping at all. STOP and examine your motive. Do you know if the individual is struggling with an illness, has personal problems at home, is preoccupied with a life changing event (birth of a baby, immigration of a loved one, wedding, funeral, financial problems etc.)?
Be honest in your intention, be kind in your action, be gracious in your giving and be grateful that you have the opportunity to reach out and help.
Of course you need to tread carefully around the colleague that is habitually late and lazy and needs assistance because they don’t give 100%. They are abusing you and this is unacceptable. Fortunately, they are usually the minority and this is a totally different topic. However, you still need to be kind and in this instance the kindest thing you can do is walk away and still keep your mouth shut.
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always” (Wendy Mass)
EA’s must usually “go to war” for every penny to spend on their development (a generalisation but more prevalent than is acceptable) so how do you work around this?
Identify a field that you enjoy or have an interest in and find a mentor in that field. This mentor should be accomplished in their field of expertise and willing to spend some time with you. This could be in the form of a weekly half hour Q & A session, attending a subject specific meeting as an observer, sharing their non-confidential correspondence with you (using Bcc) etc. You will benefit from all these interactions and slowly build your knowledge in the field to the point where you can make a meaningful contribution and suggestions, put your hand up to assist with projects etc.
Being helpful outside of your normal scope of work is a great way to get exposure to new things. Time is not an EA’s friend but a little help goes a long way. If you volunteer to assist the HR department with proof reading the organisation’s internal newsletter you will be in a position to ask questions around intended meaning and clearer understanding of the content. Similarly putting your hand up to assist the finance team with formatting of the integrated report will give you an insight into the legalities of corporate governance and reporting requirements. The internal newsletter may be published once a month and the integrated report only once a year so they will not take too much out of your day for any sustained length of time.
Networking and social events are a great source of inspiration and learning and are often free or very affordable. Don’t limit your attendance to EA related events although these are vital for your sanity and career growth. Consider your personal growth and value add to your organisation if you attended a writers’ gathering or wine and food pairing event. If someone is looking for a plus one, put your hand up. You will learn something new and you never know who you will meet that could lead to a mutually beneficial relationship in the future.
Make time to READ!! It is not always possible to read everything that comes across your desk in detail but even a quick speed read could produce a gem that catches your eye and ignites a spark of interest for future expansion. If you find a gem like this, source articles, books, webinars etc. and delve a little deeper to ascertain if it was a genuine interest or a passing fancy. Train yourself to read every night before you put out your light. You may be dog tired and need to read the same paragraph again tomorrow night but no one is keeping score and there is no prize for finishing first.
There is a treasure trove of free training opportunities which Executive Secretary very kindly shared in 2015 and they continue to share every opportunity they come across. Most of them are web based, “complete in your own time” training modules and if your company sees you are committed to your own development to the extent that you will DIY, they just might be prepared to cave occasionally and fund your attendance at a conference, seminar or workshop.
The bottom line is … do not leave your destiny in someone else’s hands. Put your hand up, reach out and take responsibility for your own growth and future. You will get recognised which could ultimately lead to you winning the war 😊
I have a passion for the profession and firmly believe that it is first and foremost a service industry. You need to be passionate about providing a service that will benefit others.