That what I felt as I stood in a meeting room this week half way through a 2 hour meeting I was running with 30 people. Smelly – no. Soggy – deffo.
It’s unusual for me to feel that during my normal office time. I’ve facilitated that kind of meeting before plenty of times. But this week was not normal. Not by a long shot.
I got a new role at the end of last year and part of the new responsibilities are to help co-ordinate the work of 11 software teams working to a 3 monthly cycle. At the end of every 3 months there’s a bunch of meetings to conclude one cycle and start the new one. The climax of this is a 2 day event with over 110 people in a room (some flying in from overseas especially, including senior executives) collectively planning their work for the next 3 months. Guess who has to organise and run this event? Yep, yours truly.
Sounds like fun right? Well with 2 days to go my mind was trying to say yes, but my body was telling me no. Under the surface there was tension and stress, which was gradually rising to the surface (along with the sweat). The few days prior, I was either exhausted and lethargic or high energy but disorganised and chaotic. It was quickly becoming overwhelming and panic was setting in.
Then 2 days later this happened.
I didn’t die! I made it out the other side alive, kicking and actually feeling bloody amazing!
So, how did I get from soggy to success? What steps did I take in those 2 days to turn the worry into winning?
- Found some allies – I knew that I needed a sounding board for some ideas and to do a dry run for my opening speech, so I asked a couple of buddies in the office if I could buy them a coffee in exchange for them lending their ear. (Note to self – people will do pretty much anything for a free coffee)
- Practised – to start with I wrote (in full) all of the words I wanted to say to introduce the day
- Stuck to my daily ritual – On any given work day I try to wake 90 mins before I need to leave the house to allow time for yoga, meditation, breakfast and time with my kids. This creates the foundation for my day. This sets me up with a positive energy and intention for whatever lies ahead. This had started to slip but as much as I felt the urge to abandon this routine and wake up late and rush things, reverting back to the norm was so much better.
- Re-read my previous posts about presentation skills – a great reminder of the basic tips for doing what you can to avoid failure.
- Practised again – This time in an empty meeting room, incorporating the feedback from my buddies earlier.
- Made lots of lists – What do I need to do before I arrive? What do I need to do when I arrive? What websites do I need open on my pc? What stationary do I need to bring…
- Organised my stationary – This has a strangely calming effect on me and for some bizarre reason people in offices are easily impressed with a well organised stationary box!
- Practised some more – By now I was down to index cards of the key points with the rest memorised.
- Wrote a blog post about the success – Yes, before it happened! I’m writing this post in the past tense, before the meeting has happened! I’m playing mind games with myself and setting an intention of how I want to feel when it’s done.
- Asked for help – During the event I was going to be in high demand, with little time to pause, so I reached out to some other colleagues to ask for assistance with certain tasks over the event. It can be difficult to admit that you can’t do it all, but there is tremendous power and humility from showing vulnerability and asking for help.
This is (as always) an offering of help and not me bragging. It’s about sharing my experience with the hope that it reduces anxiety that you may feel if faced with a similar situation. Of alleviating any discomfort you may find yourself sitting with when faced with a daunting activity.
Being uncomfortable is not pleasant, and can quickly spiral out of control, but if you acknowledge it, pause and take action to work through it, then magic can happen.
Life might be easier without the challenges that come up, but would we learn and grow at the same rate? I doubt it.