A little less than 24 hours ago I walked into my bosses office for our weekly Mentor Meeting. I had been at work since 5 a.m. plugging away at two marketing projects and the plan for onboarding a new team member.
The prior day I had skipped lunch and rearranged my schedule to put every marketing project I was working on into a calendar. It was an attempt to tackle the impossible, but I have never been one to stray from a challenge.
As I bounced into the CEO’s office, eagerly ready to show him the calendar and onboarding plan, he greeted me with his usual hello.
Then the mentoring started. It went something like this.
“You’re not managing. You’re still doing. I need you to be a manager.”
They were words I had heard many times before, but I had never taken the time to really listen to them. For the last 12 years of my career, I had made my mark as the hard and dependable worker bee whom people came to when they needed something done. Sure, I had people on my teams who I was responsible for leading, but I was the doer, hellbent on doing.
Then came the words that would rock my world.
“If you really want to be a manager, and it’s okay if you don’t. But if you really do, then you need to spend 2 hours a day putting processes and training into place.”
Being a recovering introvert on the Myers-Briggs personality profile, it takes me time to process everything.
The first place my mind went was, “Oh no! I just built a master plan that will allow me to accomplish the marketing impossible if I skip lunch and work 11 hour days for the next two weeks. How am I going to fit in two more hours?”
Anxiety hit. Tears came to my eyes, and I just wanted to crawl under my chair and hide. Who cries in front of their CEO?
My whole world was shattering.
Or was it?
Then my Mentor went on to say…
“And you can only do it working 8 hours a day for the next two weeks. I don’t care what on your list doesn’t get accomplished. I don’t need you to burn out. I need you to put the processes down of what you do and how we can duplicate you, so that you have time to be a mom and a wife. So that you have time to manage and lead others.”
I can’t remember the last time in my life I worked eight hours a day. But in that moment, something changed inside of me.
I left his office and went to work on a plan to utilize the skills of my team to execute the bottleneck areas. Then I brought in my best teammate. I offered her the opportunity to learn a new skill.
Instead of hearing how overwhelmed she was with work (the ghost in my head that kept me from offering her to opportunity to step up and help), my anxious little ears were greeted with…
“You know I love to learn!,” complete with a smile for my eyes to see.
My heart sank back where it belonged. My anxiety from the morning floated away.
And with those six words, together we devised a plan to get our department out of the bottleneck I had built in my silo and onto a highway of success. A plan that will see each of us grow. A plan that takes me from manager of tasks to leader and teacher of people.
So here I sit at 6:30 in the morning on my sofa at home, typing the blog I’ve been dreaming of doing for years, instead of plugging away at the next marketing project calling my name. Who knew 6:30 a.m. could feel like a vacation?
“Hi! I’m Tina, and I’m a workaholic.”
Today is my first step towards finding the real me and becoming a real leader of people instead of doer of tasks.
Anyone else out there in the same boat? If so, welcome aboard. Let’s do this together!