“Kat, do you want to take the supervisor position?” He held my gaze as he waited for my response. I just sat there, like a bump on a log, trying to figure out how the conversation took this sudden turn. I knew I had to respond, but I was replaying in my mind the sequence of events that led me to this impromptu meeting in the director’s office.
I worked as an admin, part of a team of four, tucked away on the fourth floor of a building that did not get much traffic. Our location deprived us of the bustle of activity that was going on around the other departments on campus, so uneventful workdays were the norm.
Until that day.
The day was almost over when our supervisor popped her head around the door to say hello. She was out on vacation but stopped by to have a meeting with the director. Within a few minutes, we heard raised voices coming from the director’s office down the hall. One at a time, heads began to rise and people started to inch their way to the door to find out what the commotion was all about. When the director’s door swung open, everyone nonchalantly walked back to their desks. We all tried to look busy as we heard heavy footsteps in the hallway and then the thud of the double doors as our supervisor made her exit.
“Kat, you can do this. You won’t have to go at it alone because I’ll be your wingman.”
I blinked and reality kicked in.
I am sitting in the director’s office being offered a supervisory position. A position that I never considered because I didn’t think I was qualified to lead a team. A position that I never considered because I didn’t think I had ‘enough’ experience even though I was the 'go-to gal’. A position that I never considered because I never imagined getting paid a salary. Wait! No more clocking in?!
Looking back, it saddens me how much reassurance and validation I needed to hear just to consider taking the position. Why is that? Why do we short-change ourselves when opportunities come our way? Why do we rely on others to build a case for how personable and qualified we are to step into a managerial or more complex role? It’s embarrassing to admit, but my limiting beliefs would have led to self-sabotage due to lack of self-esteem.
After what seemed like hours of coaxing, I accepted the position of the department supervisor. I stayed in that role for a year before moving to another promising opportunity on campus. So, what have I learned from this experience you ask? I’m thankful for those leaders in our work lives that challenge us to believe in ourselves. Those leaders who vocalize their beliefs so we can see our talents and skills through their lens and not our cloudy ones. Those leaders who persistently encourage us with a smile or a meaningful gesture.
I was fortunate to have such a leader early in my career. I firmly believe that I am an entrepreneur today because I made the right decision those many years ago while sitting in the director’s office. When new challenges present themselves, we protect ourselves by bowing out gracefully to avoid failure. We allow fear of the unknown to paralyze us from taking steps forward. If you find yourself facing an opportunity today, let me be the first to encourage you by saying go for it! Say yes and give yourself permission to learn, fail, grow and explore
You've got this!
- Kat McGowan