I have been very lucky in my career. For the past twenty years I lived the corporate dream that my younger self could never have imagined – great jobs at even greater organizations, continual learning and progressively senior positions.
The opportunity to take on a variety of roles is a wonderful advantage of working in large organizations – this is particularly true at forward thinking firms that understand how to develop leaders. Several years ago upon returning from a maternity leave, I was asked to take on a large leadership role that had nothing to do with any of my previous experience. My first thought was “not in a million years”. Not only did I know little of what the team did, it was also a significantly larger group than I had ever managed. The thought was terrifying. Up until that point in my career I had a pretty good track record and reputation….why would I risk that? After some sleepless nights and lots of discussion with mentors, I accepted the role. It was a great decision. I equate it to being an Olympic swimmer, and then being asked to run the 100 meter dash….your athletic training and skill are helpful but you have to learn to use different muscles. Since I had no technical expertise in the work the group did, I had no choice but to simply lead, to coach to improve performance, to help the junior employees think through their career paths and develop them for other roles. It was the best learning experience, and a very rewarding time.
Jack and I draw from these types of practical business experiences in our coaching and training sessions. We also incorporate stage, media and improv training. The first rule of improv is, Yes and. Say yes to something, receive it and add what you know. Denying any opportunity only leaves you with an unopened gift that could potentially lead to great things. I feel fortunate to have received so many valuable gifts over the years in my career, and I am so glad I followed the fear and said yes.