When I was 21 and 3/4′s I temped (which is snazzy word for dogsbody, poor dogs, they don’t deserve that.)
Have you ever been The Temp?
Okay then, let me see, *thinking*.
Right. Have you ever been in a situation totally out your depth? Perhaps you’ve sat scared in a meeting dreading you’re turn, because you perceived that others were more qualified to speak than you.
Or have you been at a networking event and got yourself a case of the ‘noddy-dog-uh-huhs‘, keeping quiet because you hadn’t got a clue what the conversation was about?
Perhaps you’ve started a piece of work, a project, brought alive an idea only to call halt and not finish, because you fot it into your head that you weren’t ‘good enough’? (Good enough to what? Good enough compared to whom?)
Okay, are we all on the same page now? Excellent.
A lesson in you have to start somewhere (or how not to be a temp)
The funniest assignment (to my 21 and 3/4′s no empathy, inexperienced, completely unaware self) was for a housing agency.
The manager arrived in work each day with a 6 pack of Becks beer, by noon they were drank (and she was drunk). At the same place, there was a team lunch on the Friday, the office got locked and bolted at 11.00 and corked again at 3.30, without the Manager, she was never to be seen again until Monday morning. Funny? I was 20 and 3/4′s, yes it was bizarre, today I wonder if she got help.
Once that little spree was done, I got my new mission, which I choose to accept, for a charity based in Edinburgh.
As soon as I arrived on the first day I got hurried into another office by a verybusybusybusybee in clicky heels carrying a clipboard. Until that point I had been in so many places where I had been rushed into cupboards, small spaces, desks in fecking hallways, anywhere that the ‘temp’ work could be completed, no windows, fresh air or contact with anyone else my initial thought was, ‘here we go again’.
Side: Do some places think temps are decendants of escape artists but with admin skills? Teeny-tiny spaces. Give temps air, you swines!
Ms BusyAsABusyBee asked the obligatory better be nice to the temp question, ‘Would you like a coffee?‘, said in a tone that actually meant, ‘You won’t be wanting a cup of coffee, will you? Because I don’t really want to make you one and we have ‘proper jobs’, sadly I’ve been landed with you’.
‘That would be lovely’, replied my cocky 20 3/4′s self.
She tutted. And flew out the door, buzzing down the hall to a place I probably wasn’t going to get invited for lunch.
I waited half an hour, taking in the room I’d been shuffled into. The room was really swanky. The view stunning, being able to see right across Edinburgh. The office was filled with unique furniture, a massive oak desk, one that I imagined proper ‘writers’ write at, I thought I was in Ms Bees office, or at least someone pretty high up in the chain of this non-profit.
I was just deciding whether to have a nosey at all the leaflets on the desk when my coffee arrived, only no Ms Bee, someone new, ‘I take it you’re the temp?’ she asked without looking at me.
Crickey, did I go too far with the bee?
‘Yes’, I replied ever so smiley, smiley, smiley me.
‘Mr X, (I’ve changed the name for confidentiality purposed. Their name wasn’t ‘X’, I mean, I wasn’t in the Home Office or MI5 or anything) will be a little late, you’ve just to get settled in until he gets here.’
‘Will he be inducting me?’ I asked. (Inducting. What a silly word. That is such an HR word. What happened to showing me the ropes?)
‘Uh-huh. You are his PA’, she stung.
‘PA?’ I asked. What the hell was a PA? Short for Piss Artist? Public Announcement system? Pack Animal? What type of charity was this?
Sadly, I have one of those faces. The Giveaway Face. I can’t hide my thoughts, I do look like my feelings, plus I have runaway eye brow that raises and a mouth that leans to the side when confused-eth.
‘Personal Aaaaaa-sistaaaant, to the Director’, there went sting No 2. ‘Please say you have experience’, she added.
What the hell was a Personal Assistant?
‘Oh. right. Excellent,’ cocky me replied.
‘This is your office’, she said.
My giveaway face, gave it away again.
‘Mr X’s is here.’ She opened the doors, and sure enough another office, bigger than the one I was in. My first thought was did the people fundraising, running marathons, baking cakes, walking in China along a wall know they were buying art for this charity?
So there I was, already an enemy to the Bee and the Wasp because I was being arsy, plus I had no idea what a PA’s role was, but it’s fair to say idea I was utterly out my 20 3/4′s years depth.
Now, I had okay admin skills, but I was no Billy-Gatesy-Boy, I couldn’t decide what was for tea most nights, and I still can’t. Imposter. I felt like an imposter. But, I really needed the money.
When the Director eventually pitched up, he was all excited at my arrival, obviously without a Pack Animal for a while.
After the quick, ‘how-d0-you-do’s, weather is nice, did you get here okay, that’s a busy bus,’ conversation. I decided I liked this chappie. Do you ever feel that from peeps? You get an instant liking?
So, I grew up.
And owned up.
I explained to him that there had been a mistake, that I’d never carried out this role before, and if he wanted to phone the agency to get someone qualified I’d understand.
He said, ‘Let’s give it a week and then see, shall we? We all have to learn and it begins with starting somewhere.‘
This guy must have been desperate and that statement has stuck with me ever since.
You have to begin somewhere. You have to start.
He then gave me a presentation to prepare for the Friday, told me I would need to organise the two Managers training events happening on the Thursday/Friday including the catering, and that I would be required to take minutes on the Tuesday. Could I organise his flights, accommodation and travel to a conference he was attending the following week in London — he then handed me the credit card to book and pay for all of the above.
Feck, yeah. I could do that. Or at least try it, and I had to start somewhere.
Look, this wasn’t a career role for me. I didn’t want to work in admin or be a PA but it taught me two massive lessons which I want to share with you.
Getting in the deep end isn’t that bad — sure, nobody wants to wing it everyday, but are we usually more capable than we think we are?
Are you dismissing oppportunites because you think you aren’t good enough…yet?
I spent my evenings that first week in the library (that’s a building that lends books, remember them?) and reading about how to take minutes, event planning and how to write business letters. I borrowed a typewriter and clunked my way into the night typing cat, rat, dog, over and over and over.
We sometimes have to stick our neck on the line and actually do the jobs and tasks that scare the heebies-geebies out of us.
Many peeps sit back and wait for the person next to them to stick up their hand.
Have you ever pulled back and at the same time you’ve thought:
I can do that.
I have the ability.
I know I can.
Let me try.
How do we know what we are capable of unless we stick our hand up? And I don’t just mean to the requests of others, to say yes to yourself.
Life lessons aren’t just in books, courses, seminars, blog and workshops.
They come from one-liners, an aside comment that stops us in our tracks, leaves us thinking for years and changed for a lifetime.
We all have to start somewhere.
In those moments when you hear ‘YES’ coming from your own thoughts, consider going for it.
You’ll learn as you go, you’ll screw up, you’ll make mistakes, perhaps feel out your depth, and?
I mean that. So what?
We all have to learn, we all have to start somewhere.
You’ll hear the internal Ms Bees and Ms Wasps with their chitter-chatter telling you not to, let them rant.
You probably won’t remember reading this later on today, or next week, but perhaps in a month or so when you’re presented with the moment where you can say ‘I can do that’, you’ll grab it and say peacefully to yourself, ‘Gotta start somewhere.’
‘Till next time,
PS: What are you scared to say yes to? What’s in your way? If you need help come to the next webinar on the 6th July ‘Sorting the Crap That Is Stopping You From Creating Your Remarkable‘
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