Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thrown into the Lion's Den (An Introvert's Prospective)

Lion = Clients and Contractors
Source: Google Images
 Last week, Architecture forced me to step outside my comfort zone.  Project C and School M once again caused me to used my phrase: Be Assertive.  It has been working in my favor, and I have shown my bosses that I have grown in the past 5 years.  I know the more I speak in front of people and practice ahead of time, the more I will forget that I'm an introvert and soft spoken.  This doesn't work in my favor when I have to spontaneously speak at an event.  For three days, I was thrown into the Lion's Den (but in a good way).

Chela's Nervous Scale:
1 (lowest level) - Fully prepared.
5 (mid level) - Presenting to people I know.  I'm nervous because I'm presenting, but I can be myself since I know everyone.  
10 (highest level) - Life changing presentation that can make or break my career.  At this point I look like I just took a swim in my suit.

Day 1: Project C
Nervous Scale: 5
Friday April 26, I took Mr. Tibbs to the vet.  Everyone left a little early, so I didn't get a chance to talk with Boss J about Monday's meeting for Project C.  He had a slight cough, but he said we would talk about it before the meet.  I put my presentation information on a thumb drive and left for the day.

Last Monday, he didn't show up for work.   His cough had gotten worse, so he asked Boss S to take his place.  Worried that I would be forced to speak, I reviewed the PowerPoint with Boss S and we headed to our client's office.  I remembered we went through the same situation during our last meeting with the client and Boss S finished the presentation for Boss J, so I remained calm during the 30 minute ride.  The conference room was small and only 3 out of the 4 clients showed up.  After I set up the computer, I asked Boss S if he was going to present.  Then he said something I wasn't expecting: "No, I'm going to throw you in the Lion's Den."

Peter Griffin saw what I did there.
Click here to see the Family Guy reference.
The presentation went well and if I didn't know a piece of information, Boss S covered me.  I was the one that put all the research information together and I knew the audience, so it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I got a pat on the back from Boss S and we went to lunch before we headed back to the office.

Day 2: School M
Nervous Scale: 9
School M was finally awarded a contractor.  The client scheduled a Preconstruction meeting between the owner, architect and the contractor to introduce the team members, understand the scope and find out the rules and regulations for the project.  Since the project was transitioning into the Construction Phase, I told our Construction Manager about the project he had to take over.  He knew very little about the project, so I knew in advance that I would have to speak at the Preconstruction meeting.  Before I left the office, Boss S told me that after Day 1's meeting, he knew that I was going to do well for the presentation. The only problem was that I hadn't worked on the project in a month and my mind has been on other projects, so I needed a refresher before my nerves got the best of me.  I kept a cheat sheet of the scope in my folder and walked into the meeting. 

The room was filled with about twenty people.  Three were the design team while the rest were the end users, the clients, the contractor and their sub contractors.  I didn't know that meeting was going to be that large.  My fears heightened and while the civil engineer talked, all I could say to myself was "DON'T MESS UP! YOU CAN DO IT!"  Then it was the Architect's turn to talk about the interior work.  I started off great.  I opened up my drawings and guided everyone through the scope of work.  Then I made my first mistake and the Principal made a big "gasp."  I panicked, corrected myself and flipped the pages.  Then I made my second and third mistake and the contractor interrupted me for clarification.  I answered his question and continued.   Finally, I had to recite what was in the Engineering drawings.  I picked up my cheat sheet and read the sheet word for word.

After I finished, I felt horrible.  Yes I was able to correct myself, but my nerves got the best of me and I felt like I didn't know what I was talking about.  The contractors gave my co-worker their business card and we left the meet.  I kept apologizing to my co-worker about how poorly I did, but he said I did better than I think I did.

Day 3: AIA ATL Study Session
Nervous Scale: 2
Last Thursday, I noticed that I didn't receive any information for the next AIA hosted study sessions. My co-worker wasn't going, and I couldn't get in contact with AIA, so I decided to text my friend T about the group. He hadn't received any information, so he recommended that I contact them. He also suggested that I ask them about possibly mentioning our group in the meeting to see if anyone was interested in joining. At our last meeting, we spoke with the host about organizing an outside Meetup Study group in conjunction with their AIA hosted Study groups. These two groups would work hand and hand with one another.

I emailed the hosts on Friday and I was able to get the information I needed for Saturday's study session.  There were only 7 attendees at this meeting and the hosts went into more detail about the study material compared to the last meeting.  T didn't attend this meeting, so I had a feeling that I was going to speak about the group if they put the Meetup group's information in their PowerPoint.  And they did.  I gave an intro about our group and the hosts told me that they will help our group in anyway they can since we are working together.

After the meeting, I was stopped by another attendee who is trying to take the same exam section as me.  He thanked me for putting the group together and how excited he was about possibly joining.  This was a big shock me.  The group now has 8 members, with possibly 2 more joining in the next week before our May 18th Interest Meeting.

A lot of my family and friends tell me that I need to break out of my shell. These were not my first presentations or my last. I can do a presentation when I'm well prepared. My shell was "semi-broken" since I moved to Georgia. I think I get nervous when the groups are larger and when I'm speaking to people that know the subject way better than me, which is all the time!  I miss being able to hide in the back of the class and avoid eye contact so I didn't have to speak. Lately, I haven't had the option to hide, lol. I know if I continue to do that, I can't grow.

I know this situations are preparing for my future; I just have to accept it!

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