One phrase was on loop through my head throughout the day:
“Big girl shoes, you can do this!”
“We need more hot water and coffee in the VIP breakfast room, as soon as possible, please.” It wasn’t the first time I’d tracked down the hotel catering staff with the request that had gotten lost in the busy hustle.
Out of coffee? Not cool! If anyone in the room was half the coffee lover I am… I wasn’t about to let them down.
That might seem like an easy request to make. But for me, making a request, especially more than once and when I had to walk through doors with the foreboding label “staff only” plastered across them, was REALLY pushing myself.
Throughout the day I got to play…
- Gopher (Need more pens? I’m on it!)
- Bouncer (yes, all 5’0″ of me… “VIP lunch is right through this door, enjoy your meal” and “This area is reserved for VIPs but there’s a lovely restaurant just down the hall and to the left.”)
- Order form collector and decision re-enforcer (“Excellent choice, this program is fantastic for X results, you’re going to love it, and their team will be in touch via email with you after the event.”)
- Special request helper (“Yes, let me see what the kitchen can do for you…”)
- Frustrated person whisper (“I apologize for that problem, and you’re right, totally not cool so how can I make this better for you?”)
- Bottled water deliverer to the stars (Wait, I have to walk ON STAGE while the program is happening to deliver this?! Deep breaths and boy was I thankful I wore flat-ish boots instead of tall heels I might fall off as I walked up the stairs and on to the stage…)
- Detective crawling on the floor (Sure, I’ll go look under all the chairs in the room for that thing you taped under the seat that’s still missing in action.)
- Crowd control (in my “Mom” voice, “Please move into the main event room, we’ll be starting in the next few minutes” then “If everyone could please exit into the networking room…”)
And whew! While I found that I really enjoyed finding ways to help people have a great experience and playing behind the scenes, I also came away with a completely new appreciation for event teams. I had no idea how many little pieces they somehow keep together and how assertive they’ve got to be to make things happen.
I’m pretty introverted… and that may be an understatement. But I put on my purple (event team color for the day), pulled on my knee high boots and stepped into who I had to be for the day to do what I’d committed to do and do it to the very best of my ability.
What’s on your list?
See, I’ve got this list of the areas I am aware that I need to make progress in, based on what I want to accomplish in business and life. Learning how to be more assertive, ask for things directly, and interact with people more confidently is high on that list.
So throwing myself into the experience of an event team member for a day was a step in that direction. Plus I got to wear a cool headset and play with the team radio and a cool group of event people.
The next day I was drained, but I walked away excited that I’d made it through the day without any tears and successfully stepped up when needed.
A year ago I couldn’t have done it. I’d have been crying in the bathroom at the first complaint over breakfast and run away the moment someone wanted through the door before they were allowed.
Those who know me and love me sometimes let me off easy when it comes to these types of situations. I needed to switch my environment to one where I was expected to show up and do what needed done. No excuses or “but this is who I am and how I am” justifications allowed. I had to go undercover.
How’s this tie into blogging and business?
Blogging requires getting out of your comfort zone to be vulnerable in your writing, to promote yourself and pitch your blog, to create the opportunities you need to get in front of your readers, be you and break out of the crowd.
Those butterflies in your stomach are the same no matter which area of your comfort zone you’re pushing beyond. So learning to manage it in one context helps in others.
I read The 4 Hour Workweek a couple years back and I remember Tim Ferriss describing how he’d lie down on the floor in a public place to get past worrying what other people think. I’m exploring my own versions of that exercise. It’s working.
I went “undercover” to a space where no one knew me for the day (okay, a few people recognized me and asked what the heck I was doing on the event team, but I was mostly incognito). I proved to myself that I could make it through the experience. That’s an empowering realization.
What’s on YOUR list to break out of your comfort zone and push to the next level you need to reach and how can you make it happen?