Kevin. Changes, Transitions and Support

posted January 14th, 2011 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Kevin to tell me in terms of the changes and transitions she has made, what prompted her to make them, where she turned for support when she made each change, and what she learned from the experience.

 

She says: “You know, mostly my husband and family.  I can’t say that there were either colleagues or role models or mentors along the way who provided that kind of support.  Although I’m a relatively shy person, there’s part of me that always says if an opportunity appears you’ll really be sorry if you don’t grab it, so I’ve tended to do that whenever things have dropped into my lap.”

 

I asked Kevin what she had learned from doing that.  She said: “I have learned that, really, you can do almost anything if you have basic common sense and are really willing to learn along the way. I did learn a lot. I came out of consulting with a pretty high opinion of myself which was destroyed quite quickly when I entered the business world. After a few sessions of weeping in the washroom, having been taken apart by my boss, I realized that you need to listen and step back.  You’re only as good as the team that works with you and the more you can make them look good, the more they will make you look good.  That was a real life lesson. Another one was that it’s better to listen than to throw an opinion out there until you’ve really got a sense of what is the right course of action in any decision situation.”

 

I asked Kevin whether she had role models, mentors or heroes at any stage in her career and in terms of the changes and transitions she has made. She said she did. She read books by Jane Jacobs in an urban planning course that she took at night when her kids were little and she became a real inspiration. She says when she joined the architectural firm one of the principals was a mentor.  She says: “He saw abilities in me that I didn’t know I had and really fostered them. I can’t say that I had any women who were role models or mentors because in most cases I was in fields where there were very few women, at least  until I got into the arts.”

 

I asked in the case of her heroes whether there was something she saw in their behaviour that she found admirable and influential. She said in the case of the man who had been a mentor, she was impressed by “his willingness to go after anything that would result in an interesting job, a real eagerness and unwillingness ever to be put down or give up. He is one of the most hard driving, tenacious people I have ever worked with and this is something he still does now in his late 70’s.”

 

I asked Kevin to be more specific about how these people helped her grow and develop personally and professionally. She said: “Giving me opportunities and letting me get out there and try to do things even though there was a risk that I might fail. I think that’s a very important part of developing anyone that you’re mentoring, not to hover over them too much but to give them real responsibility, help them when they ask for it but really leave them out there to do it.”

 

I asked Kevin what impact having a mentor had on her success. She said: “Oh huge.  I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence when I started working.  I had been a housewife and I really lacked self-confidence.  I’m a very shy person and I think realizing that I had the ability to do things that I never would have dreamt of and that I could succeed at them boosted my self-confidence. Seeing that people would give me positive feedback when I did succeed, not just my boss but my colleagues, that was really a big deal in building my self-confidence and self-esteem.”

 

What Strikes Me?

 

It’s important when you are developing someone not to hover over them too much but to give them an important responsibility and offer them help when they ask for it but really leave them alone and allow them to do it

 

It is inspirational to witness someone who has a willingness to go after anything that could result in interesting work with everything they can possibly put into it, to witness their eagerness to go after it hard and their determination not to be put down or to quit

 

If an opportunity opens you’ll be really sorry later if you don’t grab it

 

You can do almost anything if you have basic common sense and are open to learning along the way

 

You’re only as good as the team that works for you and the more you can make them look good, the more they will make you look good

 

It’s better to listen than to offer an opinion until you’ve really got a sense of what the right course of action is in any decision situation

 

What Strikes You?

 

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