We further explore how to stop holding ourselves back in week five of our Turning Points and Breaking Points Novena, by focusing on cultivating a personal mission and learning how to market it.
Ah, the stage mom, militantly advocating for her child’s success. While we might feel the poor kid being pushed into the spotlight is a bit of a train wreck, admit it, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone that enthusiastically putting you on center stage and showcasing your talents, fighting tooth and nail to get you noticed? Well, go look in the mirror. You are your very own self-promotion machine.
Believe in yourself. A good stage mamma never doubts her baby’s abilities. You have to know your strengths and be willing to show them off. Make a list of the ten things you do best as an architect. Choose specific actions, things you feel you are really, really good at doing like programming, research, charrettes with clients, collaborating with your team, sketching or rendering. Rank them from what you love to do most to least. For each item, list your single greatest accomplishment. List three ways you will improve on this skill in the next year. You can say things like publish an article showcasing this issue and my expertise with it, entering a competition, getting a certification, hosting a lunch and learn, speaking to my AIA chapter, anything, anything that allows you to claim a greater level of knowledge and share that knowledge with others. I don’t care whether you are an intern or own your own firm- figure out at least three ways you are going to show yourself off in the next twelve months. Give yourself depth of experience outside of work on projects and you will be surprised how quickly projects that match the activities you truly love and have a talent for find their way to you.
Never stop smiling. How can your top five best and most loved skills make a difference to your community, company or your clients? What do these skills say about your architectural personality? Write your own personal mission statement. Keep it to a single sentence that captures the essence of who you uniquely are as an architect. Make sure it is a life-affirming positive statement. Communicate it to clients and co-workers through everything you say and do in the design and construction process as well as in your extracurricular activities. Let it be what helps guide you to the volunteer/community/professional activities that most reflect your values as a person and as an architect. As you toil away on a big deadline, deal with a difficult client or experience a setback, remind yourself of your mission statement and let it keep you on track.
Talent is only part of your score. Charm, style and grace factor heavily into the judges score as well. As a former boss once wisely remarked on the subject of getting work, “first, they have to like you.” So while you might really want to focus on twirling those flaming batons, that kind of intensity might just lose you points with a client, colleague, boss or co-worker if you fail to connect. The best performers know how to connect with their audience, their focus is outward not inward. To successfully connect, you need to know yourself and your abilities, your mission as an architect so well that you don’t need to worry about your performance. You need to live your best talents in everything you do, including volunteer work and personal projects (like writing a blog). If you walk the talk in this way, there is an honesty and an integrity in what you bring to your work that is beyond reproach and it will resonate with everyone around you.
For God’s sake, get a mentor. Every stage mom’s goal is to get her kid a good agent. While she never stops riding herd on the process, she knows she doesn’t have access to all the networks, or knowledge of all of the opportunities. Neither do you. Mentors introduce you to more people, help you stay focussed, talk you up and maybe even nominate you for an award now and again. The need for a mentor is ageless. No matter where you are in the spectrum of your career, you can use a little coaching and encouragement, someone to encourage you to reach outside your comfort zone and take some risks to stay fresh and at the top of your game.
If you want your career to take off, don’t wait to be discovered. Take a cue from stage moms everywhere and start promoting your talents. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like some coaching to help you hone those stage mom skills or a virtual mentor. I invite everyone to also share their best self-promotion story- your success can become someone else’s inspiration.