A few years ago I was working as a PA within a large team of highly qualified, talented and very very confident project management consultants. I was asked by one of my colleagues to come along to a meeting to discuss how the organisation could communicate more successfully with staff. I wasn’t there to take notes or represent my Executive, I was there to offer my own thoughts and opinions, and I totally freaked out. I felt like a complete fraud, despite the fact that I had lots of thoughts on the subject and had worked on similar projects in other organisations. Nevertheless, in that meeting I didn’t say very much, when asked a specific question I said I didn’t know and I generally looked and felt completely redundant. I’m sure we’ve all been there, feeling like a fraud at work and having a major crisis of confidence. I felt so stupid that day that I promised myself, it wouldn’t happen again. I’ve thrown myself into a few situations where I have felt totally out of my depth, questioned my entire career and skill set and basically wanted to crawl back into bed and hide. I started to tell myself that I have to basically ‘fake it till I make it’ and that is what I’ve done ever since! Here are some of my thoughts on why, sometimes, it’s quite good to feel like a fraud at work.
Why are you here?
That is the first thing to ask yourself. Why are you in this situation? You are here because you aced an interview, that your Executive and your Organisation saw something in that makes you awesome. It might be your knowledge, your skills, your qualifications, your amazing personality. Whatever it is – you have every right to be there and to be heard.
You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone
If you always do the same thing you will never give yourself a chance to grow and develop. I’ve heard so many incredibly successful business people say that they said yes to situations and figured out how to make it a success along the way. Yes, that is a very scary prospect, but if you know deep down that you can do something but it is terrifying – say yes. You will not regret it. Everyone starts as a beginner. Think about when you first started using MS Outlook all those years ago, you didn’t know everything, but now you are a complete wizz. It is the same for any task or activity you want to do. Public speaking? The more you do it, trust me, the easier it gets.
Don’t give yourself undue amounts of stress
Some people love working under pressure and need that buzz to achieve great things. Good for them, I’m not one of them! I like to be organised when fleeing my comfort zone. Feeling like a fraud doesn’t mean diving off the deep end it means giving something a go. It doesn’t mean taking up a challenge, but not asking for help. It means taking on new challenges, but having a support system in place to help manage your development.
You are your own worse enemy
I hear this phrase a lot and it is so true. No one is a more harsh on themselves than you. I’m so guilty of this and I know from experience it can really hamper your chances of great achievements. You want to set yourself high expectations but not so ridiculously high that you don’t ever bother to try because you might fail.
Are you over your head?
I think this is also a good question to ask yourself because sometimes assistants can be given work that is totally outside of their job description. For example, so many of us are asked to organise events, manage projects, procure services and suppliers, manage budgets and recruit for new staff. All of these tasks are full time, professional, jobs for some people! If you have been asked to do something that you haven’t done before, don’t say no, but do ask for time to up-skill, attend training and learn what they hell you are supposed to do! When you take on a challenge you need you right tools to make it a success!