“I’m inspired by people that are marginal. I’m excited by their resilience. ” ―Mira Nair
I did the life coaching qualification thing before Susan became one on “Neighbours”. It was in that moment I stopped calling myself a coach and stopped claiming that as a part of my public skills set. Don’t get me wrong, I have been coaching for 20 years since that qualification and went on to do another one (Performance Coach if you are into labels). I just haven’t “identified” as one.
I am now trying to move away from my 30 years in the construction industry and it has come to my attention, that all that conflict resolution, project planning, team management and mentoring, all uses my coaching skills and I’m doing myself a disservice from ignoring that label. As a woman who also loathes labels and how attached we are to them, this has been a bit of a mental challenge.
You see there are a lot of coaches out there who are…. Well, offering to coach you in order for you to coach someone else. I am qualified to train coaches (that’s how far I went in my quals) but I don’t want to be the super coach at the top of my up-line, coach of the year…
That, along with the promise of a “7 figure income”, is not, as they say, my bag baby. Now, those coaches might be great, I’ve met a few and they are great. They really mean what they say. So if that’s your thing, just make sure they do have their “7 figure income” before you hand over your money!
As for me, I want to offer success. Success in life, career, business. Whatever it looks like to you – SUCCESS! You see for me, money doesn’t equal success. I’ve met a few millionaires. They have lots of money, but success? They aren’t happy, they aren’t fulfilled, they don’t see their family, they can’t afford to take time off… I am sure you’ve heard it all before. For me those things – life, love, laughter – are my measure of success.
So here is my thing.
I have 2 quals as a coach and 20 years of experience. I don’t want to coach any one to coach anyone else. I want success for you. I want you to already have success and want more.
After so many years in construction, having an invisible disability that entire time, and running my own consultancy for 13 years, I want to share my success with others.
I’m an engineer, I deal with facts. I offer facts. But I find that is nowhere near as an attractive marketing strategy like the old “7 figure income” promise.
I want you to sort your income out. You measure the success you want in that area.
I will help you with mindset, resilience, overcoming imposter syndrome, sort out your business systems, support you to get processes in place, set goals, and a variety of other things; either in your career, business or personal life.
Resilience is all of those things I think – the ability to deal with whatever life hands you, has handed you (and sometimes life hands you your ass with a good luck card and then runs away!) and be living a fabulous life loving who you are. After that comes the money on my list of what is important.
I want to support you being the most successful person you can be.
You then go and be fabulous and earn whatever the hell you like. You will be confident, a leader, able to deal with shit. Go make your own money with that attitude and earn whatever you like.
It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. Nelson Mandela
I was privileged to be
invited to the BPW Geelong
group to speak at their annual breakfast event, themed “moving On Up”, held at
the GMHBA Stadium. It was an incredible
view over the grounds as the sun came up.
I can admire it because I usually make a point of not being awake when
the sun comes up!
The topic was about
resilience being your greatest asset and the intro that was given used all of
my not-too-insignificant achievement to introduce me. I wanted everyone to know that I had a
achieved many amazing things in my life over the last 30 years or so since I
started to embrace “adulting”. (I’m
still not sure I’ve nailed it 😊). The reason I wanted them to know that is
because of how I grew up.
My family home was
not… comfortable. As I told the
audience, my first memories are off my father belting the living daylights out
of my mother. The memories never got
better. They got worse. There were various other forms of abuse
enacted on her and on her children, myself and my two younger siblings. I moved out of home as soon as could and was
working full time to put myself through university when I was diagnosed with a
lifetime autoimmune condition called Rheumatoid Arthritis that was going to be
my constant companion for the rest of my life.
Which was likely to be short due to the aggressive nature of my disease
– or so the doctors told me.
So there I was, 19
years old, with a traumatic upbringing that I had not even begun to deal with
mentally, with a physical condition that was, by all external accounts, going
to make it pointless to strive for anything, studying to be an engineer and
with no family, no friends and no support.
How did I get from that to the award-winning, published, confident leader than I am today?
I didn’t know what it was back then, resilience was just a word that I read in books; it had no relevance to me, but that is what I used. Like a muscle, I exercised that thing like I was powerlifting to rival the Terminator’s strength. I was given plenty of opportunities to practice resilience in my life, what with a degenerative and painful (is there a word that is less descriptive of what continuous pain feels like?) condition, and working in the male dominated field of construction, with a history of male and authority figure violence. I know the statistics. I am not supposed to be this women.
But that is exactly why I am this women. The powerful creation of my own making, because I refused the story I was told that was my predictable future. I refused to give up, fade away, self sabotage, be less than, be a good girl, shut up, don’t make waves and definitely don’t be so damn smart. FUCK THAT. Let me say that again. FUCK THAT SHIT.
I refuse to be less
than everything I can be, because history, statistics, my disease and some
people tell me that I am not supposed to be here, capable, strong, powerful, a
leader, whole. I am not supposed to be
comfortable with what I’ve been through and I am not supposed to be able to
hold my own on a stage, a platform, a crowd, leading a project, or even in
dealing with life and my disability.
It took so much for me
to learn to forgive, to move on, to rise above, to be better than the story of
my life. I changed the story. I will continue to write my own story and
inspire other women, via the stage, via my writing, via being the best I can be
and improving every day where I can.
Resilience – it is the
best accessory a person can have. I
carry it with me always.
Becky has 20 years’ experience in engineering and construction and has been a qualified Project Manager for over five years and a qualified performance coach for over 10 years. She has been involved in public speaking since one of her managers put her in front of 600 men and told her she had 20 minutes to teach them how to do their job properly. Becky is known for her use of humor to challenge status quo thinking and offering alternative views for consideration. She is motivated to pass on her lessons learned to assist and educate the next generation of leaders to become high achievers like herself.
Mentoring is about other people. Genuinely, honestly, and completely. There should be no self interest in a true mentor.
There is always secondary gain to being of service to people, but it should be exactly that – secondary to the people you work with, otherwise you are a manager, or a dictator, not a mentor. And dictators need not apply.
takes a special set of skills that can’t be taught in a classroom, although I
am sure that a degree in Mentoring is not far away, if not already in place
The skills that make for a good mentor are included in the following list. Perhaps not all, but certainly more than one of these skills apply if you want to be a good, or even great, mentor.
skills that make for a good mentor are included in the following list. Perhaps not all, but certainly more than one
of these skills apply if you want to be a good, or even great, mentor.
Experience – a
broad range of skills and abilities in many areas that you can vary and apply
to each set of circumstances. You don’t
use the same process every time you are faced with a challenge. You have tried and tested many ways of
solving problems during the course of your own career.
– see above. You enjoy a challenge and
see it as a goal to overcome the problem, in fact see it as an
opportunity. You don’t complain about
how hard it is, you just get to it and get it sorted.
Giving – you enjoy offering your skills and services to others and don’t seek reward. You like reward, don’t get me wrong, but it is not the first thing you think of when you observe a situation that you can assist with, improve, solve or add value to.
Communication – a very tricky one. The biggest downfall of most peoples’ communication is talking to others in the language they use, not the language the other party uses. This causes failure, confusion, and misinterpretation which can sometimes lead to disastrous results. An example might assist. If you are building a high tech facility, do you use emoticons to demonstrate the outcomes you want or do you use technical language? This might be a slightly exaggerated example, but it offers the point that the delivery must be understood by the person receiving the information, not simply to show how many big words (or emoticons) the person making the delivery has access to
I can offer you a blue sky concept that encapsulates a paradigm shift via a panel based approach
I can offer you an alternative solution that will engage all your team members and encourage maximum participation and uptake of the concept.
Who would you choose from those two statements? And yet they offer a similar meaning.
I am passionate about writing. I have passion for what I write. I am passionate about the messages that are exchanged when communication occurs e.g. I write, you read! I am passionate about assisting people with improving their lives; their outlooks; their mindset. As a coach, I am passionate about people.
So why is this article so hard to write? Because I am also passionate about many other things. Sometimes I just get really passionate about sleep. Mainly because as an insomniac, I don’t get much!
If you haven’t been under a rock lately, you will no doubt have heard, read and seen all the various ways in which you can be passionate, have passion, get more passion, find a new passion, on so on!
Do we really need to be passionate ALL the time? Do we need to live every second as passionately as we can? As a young women, my answer was absolutely yes! I had been diagnosed with a chronic illness that saw me not likely to make it to old age. I dived into life, I got hobbies, I went travelling, threw myself out of planes, flew helicopters and did everything I could with passion and zeal, enthusiasm and vigour. Now I have reached the age I was told I’d never make (40 for anyone who is curious) I am a bit tired!
I still have passion; after all I am writing this article during the Christmas holiday period which is generally when we all get full of the spirit(s) of the festive season, not so much passion. You might be passionate about spending time with your family, but at this time of year, it is traditional that we all give passion a rest in exchange for parties!
It takes passion to be motivated to do something we don’t really want to do. Or we do want to do, but in our time, not to deadlines! So, how have I found the passion to write this article?
Now that I am a little older, I can see that passion is tiring. It can be exhausting to try and feel passion for something, everything, all the time. So I give myself a break from being passionate every now and then. I distract myself with some cheesy movies, or a great fiction; something that takes me away from the life I live, and puts me into another pair of shoes for a short time. Once I have had a vacation from myself in this way, I can take a deep breath and dive right back into that passion pool.
Sometimes I check out altogether, turn of the social media, the computer, the phone and just sit still – you might call it meditation. I just STOP. It has taken me a long time to forgive my all too human body for letting me down and being tired or unable to perform. It has taken a long time to convince myself, she who must squeeze all she can out of life before its too late; that it is okay to have a minute; an hour; a day; or even a week, where I do not achieve something, educate myself or be of service to the community in some way.
It’s okay to take a break from passion and being passionate. To sustain any kind of intense emotion takes energy. In this busy world, with the expectation on women to “have it all”, we can all feel guilty for not being there yet. We can be our own worst enemy for not achieving something according the goals, the rules, and the deadlines we set, or have set for us.
But how about, as we start another new year, filled with opportunities, excitement, growth and passion, we take a moment to remind ourselves that we are not machines, we are not robots; we are in fact simply human. We need our downtime. We need to have some silence or solace in order to gather our thoughts, file our facts and figures, to re-assess and regroup before the next round of passionate achievements.
And that is how I have written this article. By taking a break. By not worrying too much about the deadline. By taking a deep breath and realizing what I want to achieve this year. When I did that, I realized that I want to reach more women, I want to assist all of us to be easier on ourselves and manage our expectations for success along with our health – mental and physical.
And writing this article is a part of that passion that I have to ensure that every woman, no matter what they are going through; no matter what they wish to achieve this year and for their future; has an ally, a good friend, that says – it’s okay to just breathe. You are still a passionate creature. You have the ability to tap into that source of passion at any time you want. Just reconnect with why it is you want what you want; and remember why it is you do what you do.
And if in realizing that you are not passionate about something, make it okay to change your mind and be passionate about something else.
Passion is flexible and changeable. It is not fixed. It is movable. It is the creative flow that assists, along with some motivation, to move you towards your destiny, your goals, your desires. So I hope you all enjoyed your festive season as much as possible. I also hope that you have something that you can reconnect with and be passionate about this year. I know I do and I am excited and passionate about what 2019 has for all of us.
The idea of resilience is like experience – you only get it right after you need it!
I believe we can practice resilience, make it an art, flex it like a muscle, grow it from an idea into reality. Practice.
Like anything, practice takes time. A small part each day allocated to focusing on being resilient, just like you might be focused on what you eat, what you are doing, what you are planning. We take time out to focus on goals, to say affirmations; it is not such a reach that you might spend a similar portion of time to focus on resilience.
How to build it in practice? Take something that is annoying you and break it down. Why, who, what? Get honest with yourself and your reactions. Are they a result of the action that was taken, or the person who undertook the action? Are your emotions mixed because it reminded you of something in your past, or because your beliefs were challenged? Are you affronted or are you annoyed? Getting really clear on what has challenged you can then allow you to explore the why of it – why has it gotten under your skin?
Do you need to speak up and let the other person know of the result of their actions, or do you need to take responsibility for your reaction and clean up your own thoughts? Do you need to let it go because it is allowing another person to control who you are being in that moment?
An example of this is the classic road rage scenario. Someone cut you off while driving to work. You are focused, already thinking about the day and then suddenly you are confronted by rude behaviour which snaps you out of your thoughts, your focus on your life. How rude! How dare they? Who do they think they are? All of a sudden we are focused on them and what they did, and we are allowing it to impact our day. We might carry that annoyance into the workplace, creating a ripple effect of crankiness that is passed around like a plate of stale donuts at morning tea time. We might snap at our employees because we are cranky at what happened on the way to work and haven’t yet let it go. We might decide to answer the phone with less than our smiling voice and pass it onto the customer we are supposed to assist.
Or, we might decide to practice resilience and let it go. Release the anger and not allow another person’s actions to impact who we are, and who we are being in that moment. We might say a few choice words about their behaviour and then forget about them. Let the impact of their intrusion into your day become meaningless and irrelevant to the big picture of your life. We might laugh and feel superior and think that we are better than them as a careful and considerate driver. We might choose to get back to focussing on our lives and the outcomes we are striving for and forget about the rude person who briefly crossed our awareness.
We might do this as a daily practice and call it resilience training. We might find other examples, the rude customer service person (who may have also had some road rage that morning!), the abrupt waitperson, the screaming child, the mumbling co-worker… Where else can you practice the letting go of the things?
Because, once you start practising, paying attention and being present with the art of resilience, you might find many things that you can let go. You might also find more time in your day to focus on positive things once you are not consumed with the negative.
You might discover you have a great deal of resilience to apply to the life you are living after all!
Then, when something big hits your life, an illness, a family member affected, a career change unsought, a crisis of large proportions; we might just find we have time enough and the resilience that we have been practising, is no longer just practice, but very real.
“it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off’ Florence and the Machine – Lyrics from “Shake It Off”
We have a name for it now. That feeling of inadequacy and the doom that shrouds us when we consider ourselves, particularly in comparison to others, when we allow the not-good-enough to rule our minds and emotions.
I have been active participant in a dance with imposter syndrome ever since I can remember. My father made a point of sharing his displeasure that I had been born a girl. He often expressed that with more than his voice; fists were involved. Fortunately for me I was of the type that used the physical pain to overcome and fight against. The fight was only in my mind for many years until I developed the words to “shake him off”.
My mother was not a role-model for me, many years of domestic violence had whittled away at her for so long she didn’t know who she was. Even if there was a space for her in the world he created; her husband, my father, was far too controlling to allow any form of self-expression.
In my professional life, I chose the difficult path of engineering and construction. I didn’t really choose it, not back then. Back then it was a suitable use of my skills and the fastest way to a high paying long-term career – in my mind – escape! What I didn’t realise, that at no point was this industry going to make my dance with imposter syndrome smooth, more coordinated, elegant. It made it worse. And I still didn’t know what it was, just that I didn’t fit… anywhere.
I was in an industry that (back then) was much more resistant to females in the ‘power roles’ – admin and HR were perfectly fine – but engineer, leader? I was one of 10 women in my university course of over 600. I had some wonderful men who didn’t see my gender as an issue, they went out of there way to acknowledge that as I was bright, determined, and logically smart, I could make it. They supported and trained and mentored me before mentoring was even on the radar as a powerful tool. Since then I have become my own mentor, failing to find anyone who could fulfil that role for me during the early professional years of my life.
Fast forward through sever and on-going chronic illness, the final death of my father and my mother coming to live with me, and the many numerous projects and construction experiences I have had and it is only now, coming out of my thirties, that I feel I am now the lead in this convoluted dance. I chose when and how to turn, I choose the steps and the path. The imposter syndrome is now subdued, my pet almost, something that lifts it head for attention but does not insist any more than I dance to the tune of its making. I check in with it every now and then, because I also do not want to become its opposite – an ego monster, one so enamoured of itself that it becomes as consuming as the imposter syndrome once was. But it is now a tool, a function, one I have embraced and integrated into my life, rather than forced out. I stopped giving it permission.
The voice that tells me I have come so far from that scared, frightened, shy and subdued young lady is now a roar that echoes through the lives I have affected, showing the world and its propensity for shutting down the shine, that I am here and I am an incredible survivor, a high achiever, and I am not stopping any time soon.
I hope that your journey with imposter syndrome can be turned on its head and that you too can see the light that shines within you. I made it, I know you can too.
“pretty pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel, like you’re less than f###ing perfect” P!nk – Lyrics from Perfect
Becky Paroz doesn’t fit in. She has worked for nearly 30 years in the construction industry, taking names and making one for herself. She loves her workboots, colours her hair purple and speaks loudly with a strong and confident voice. Bek makes her place in the world, she has never waited for a space to open for her Moving beyond mentoring within industry for the last 10 years, Becky is now seeking her tribe to connect within and would love to hear from any fellow mavericks and nonconformists out there at any of her social media spots which you can find on her website www.wordsofbek.com.au
If you would like to talk to Bek about her mentoring please fill in the form below:
I was to have travelled to India to speak at the Women’s Economic Forum (WEF) 2019. It is a conference where women (and men) come together to exchange ideas in the hope that sharing experience, knowledge and networks can support economic and personal growth for women around the world. It is a global network and approximately 200 women were expected to attend. I was to be one of them.
Combined with that, I was one of the group chosen to speak with a charity run by the Australian delegate supporting this forum, the wonderful @Shar_Moore These wonderful young women had come from all kinds of backgrounds and were facing the possibility of studying to become doctors and engineers and I was looking forward to sharing my story with them and the myriad of possibilities that lay before them.
I was due to travel on the 9th April with the rest of the amazing delegation from Australia. I was in the hairdressers on the 2nd April getting prepped and pimped by the amazing Dana from @beautifyhairdesign
I had received my intravenous medication for my Rheumatoid Arthritis not a week earlier and it was full systems ready, set, GO for the big trip. Plus I was also booked to see the Taj Mahal – stopover for one night after the conference and before the meeting at Project RANi . Except something wasn’t right. Except, I was determined to overcome it, nothing was going to stop me. Turns out surgery did stop me. I was in hospital that night by 8pm representing with a blood pressure reading that was scaring people more than my pain levels, and the pain levels were through the roof. Turns out my gall bladder was filled with balls (technically called gall stones)– so full in fact one had popped out and was lodged in a pipe somewhere. Once that was determined, I was then prepped for emergency surgery. The nurses were very pleased that I had my hair and nails done for the visit and paid me a great deal of compliments. I love nurses. They do a great job in pretty extreme circumstances, and a bit of humour makes a bleak place just that bit lighter. So I always try and make jokes with the nurses so we can both laugh at our shared circumstances. There is no need to abuse the people who are making you as comfortable as you can be in, what are also pretty rotten circumstances for at least one of you #writethatdown I digress, because I am still devastated that I couldn’t go. One of the doctors was pretty nasty about it. I finally received the emergency surgery on Thursday 4 th April. I was maybe starting to accept that it might not perhaps be smart, to maybe consider, that perhaps, it was a possibility, I could not go to India… It certainly wasn’t acceptance at that point. So this particular doctor, on her rounds, with an audience, thought she would demonstrate her incredibly poor, very bad manners, terrible bedside skills, and clearly acknowledging my humanity, that despite making it all that way through what had to a have been a tough journey to obtain her skills
(dubious as I am about them); instead of being respectful of another powerful women, she dug another kind of scalpel under my skin and asked (and yes, the voice matched the attitude) “So, you still going to India?” Now I get that I couldn’t go. I get that it would have been risky and dangerous and quite potentially life-threatening if I got worse and not better. But that was MY acceptance to come to. In my own time, which admittedly, was a short window by this stage. Not her story to mock, to sneer, to spit upon. And it was mocking. It was nasty, nastily delivered, while I was drugged to my eye-balls, vulnerably lying with some tubes still sticking out of me, less than 12 hours after my surgery finished and dealing with my grief at not being able to deliver some (hopefully) supporting and powerful messages to women who might benefit from hearing what I have to say.
And so she sliced. I have several words I have used to describe her that I will not print here. I may make a formal complaint. I may move on from it without doing so. I haven’t yet decided because I am more focused on myself than I am on the slings and scalpels of others. I am more concerned with getting better and continuing my missions to support other women, to lift up those that I can reach, than I am spending time worried about some nasty piece of work having a dig ‘cause thinks I am some privileged women complaining about her holiday plans – or whatever story she told herself to make it okay for her to be such a terrible person in that moment. I get she might not even be a terrible person generally speaking. But she was in that moment a woman who didn’t just drag a woman down, she kicked her while she was in down and in pain. That’s just plain old ordinary average run-of-the-mill nasty. It happens everywhere, every day, to lots of people. And some of them aren’t as willing, or empowered, or confident, or even aware enough to know that you don’t have to be affected, and you certainly don’t have to take on the nasty acts of others. You can move beyond it.
You see, I know where my privilege comes from – I earnt it. I grew up in poverty, in a domestic violence situation where there was never enough money for food but always enough money for drugs and alcohol. I paid my own way through university by getting a low paid “cadetship” (another word for cheap labour) role in my chosen industry. AU$3.33 an hour to be precise. And was paid in minute- long increments, none of this rounding up thank you! If he said I started at 7:36am and I wrote on my timesheet 7:35am, guess what? I didn’t get paid for that minute. Yep, that really happened and yep, I really put up with it. I was 17 years old. It was my first job out of an environment where I was raised to never question what I was told. I had no skills to negotiate or even begin to understand what my rights were. I just needed to work and earn money to get out of the situation I was in, so worked my ass off, I did. His office was also in his own house that he showered and lived in. There were other blokes working there too. I never knew how weird this was until I told people this story and they looked at me like “WHAT??!” That is just one example and it’s the first in my career of 28 years since then and counting. I’ve earned my money, my job titles, my qualifications, my knowledge, and my position, as well as the ability to share how I managed to overcome my circumstances and actually be a success.
During this time I have been working on accepting this really (badword) news about India, one of the ladies I have mentored has written a beautiful message in a guest blog discussing how I have inspired her life in the time we have known each other, and shared skills that have changed her possibilities. Her opportunities.
Another approach was random, completely unexpected, asking me to be a brand ambassador for beyondBeanie insta tag @beyondbeanie
One of the founders is in design and architecture and supports Arthritis Foundation as a volunteer. The sales of the hand-made beanies and other products available support women, artists and children in Bolivia, most of them from rural areas and/or disadvantaged communities. Talk about aligning with my values! I was privileged to be asked and am organising that as I write this. (Watch this space for official announcements – but you heard it here first and hope that this does make a difference and create opportunities for the community.)
I am the guest speaker for an event in Melbourne in the middle of May (tickets available ) and if you can attend, I would love for you to come and introduce yourself. It is the 15th year the BPW Geelong group has been around for and I will be at their Moving On Up Breakfast, which is designed to encourage people to strive to ‘Move on Up’ in their lives and careers. The topic is one of my favourites – Resilience. Your Greatest Asset. It kind of coincides with the theme of my life! There have been more than a few other wonderful moments during this recovery time, where the women in my circle gave back to me at a really low moment. And so, I grieved for my loss, and then I got on with it. I am back at my desk sorting plans and making progress on other things, like writing this blog. Like supporting other women. Like applying for a book award (because you never know if you don’t try!). Like finding other ways to contribute to women through on-line communities while I am in recovery and supposedly “resting”.
I don’t do resting well, although I have had to learn, rapidly. Surgery is not arthritis, and frankly give me arthritis any day over major surgery again. It is always relative, what we can learn to live with, isn’t it?
So onwards, upwards, outwards and over it – as long as you’re using it, you’re not losing it. And that goes for my attitude as well as my bendy-not-so-bendy joints.
Words by Bek – I met Nurdiah in the same week she started work in the industry as she describes below. I saw an amazing young woman who was keen (and pretty clueless about what was ahead of her!). She had some amazing raw materials and plenty of potential, and so we have worked together to craft a beautiful and powerful women. I asked her to share her insights on what mentoring has done for her and she has created this beautiful story that makes me feel incredibly privileged to work with her and watch her development. It gives me a great deal of pleasure – in this month of April’s awe-inspiring women – to introduce to you to someone who is already, and will be, creating amazing things for her future!
Journeying with a Mentor
Journeying with a Mentor
Just shy of three years ago, I began my journey. I had no understanding of what I was about to get myself into. All I knew is that I wanted a change in my ‘job’ and that it was about time I stopped procrastinating stepped onto the path to pursue the career I dreamt, spoke and was fearful of for so long – Project Management. I was longing for a challenge and didn’t want to regret being in the same situation a year from now. Same thing, different day. I didn’t want that.
But, how do start? I had so much ‘catching up’ to do and to think that someone my age (28 at that time) would have started around 8 years ago, I felt I was already at a disadvantage – not to mention I was a female walking into a male dominated industry – Construction!
My introduction to the industry was like no other. It was September and I was given an incredible opportunity for a (then) small company who hired me as a Project Administrator/Trainee Project Manager. It was agreed that with time, exposure and training that the ‘Trainee’ on my role title would be removed. How long was this going to take? When would they know that I was ready? That I was no longer a ‘Trainee’. I guess it was the same as asking ‘How long is a piece of string?’. A few things I knew is that I wanted to be a Nationally Certified Project Manager within 5 years, have a good chunk of completed projects under my belt and most importantly, the salary to match! I was a single mother at the time and being an independent mother was a big deal to me.
During my first week on the job, I saw the General Manager of the Company let go and within months, the only other team member for my region say ‘It’s been great working with you!’ in an email while I was on holidays overseas. He gave me no indication, notice or a ‘heads up’ that I would be returning to work with no one (I repeat) no one in the office. Yet, there were three (I repeat) three unfinished projects. They were all in the delivery phase (check me out using the right terminology… ask me the same thing 3 years ago and God help ya!) I had barely been shown how to read plans let alone understand scope of works and specifications. These words and what they meant were foreign to me. Not to mention, the company I worked for had just been awarded an FSC project due to be kicked off in the upcoming months. What was I to do? Is this normal?
Then, came a Knight in Shining Armour. Well, more like a Superhero. A #GladiatHER In steel cap boots. Wearing Jeans instead of a cape. Wearing a polo shirt. Rocking purple hair. My Superhero’s name is Becky Paroz.
Over the next 2 and half years (and still to this day), Becky mentored, supported, encouraged, challenged, tested, sculpted, and threw me into the deep end. There were a lot of hard conversations (and tears on my end) that only my today self would understand it was part of her unique strategy.
Her unique style of teaching me about the industry had me gobsmacked some days, where I realised later she taught me a very valuable lesson without knowing it. She mentored me in a way that she knew so much about me; my strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes to harness qualities and skills and way of thinking I already possessed to be a Project Manager.
One of the qualities I admire about Becky, is that she taught me all of these things simply for the fact that she wanted a different experience for other women going through the same challenges in the industry. All she wanted in return was to see me believe in myself and use my true potential to influence someone like me one day and make a change in the world a person at a time. When she told me words of encouragement and eulogized me, I believed her – because it showed, and she proved it to me in how much she taught me. That’s inspirational in itself.
I have seen such a change in myself in such a small amount of time due to Becky’s mentoring. It’s not something you can describe on a pamphlet or put a price on. Taking away valuable life lessons that can impact your way of thinking, operating, negotiating, strategizing is something not a lot of people can offer you and really succeed and prove it. I have changed and grown so much in that I have self- confidence, I am able to initiate and get through difficult conversations, I am respected by men and women within my industry, able to think strategically and one of my favourites, pull off a mean poker face.
Becky has taught me that although first impressions can last, it’s what you bring to the table is what will change it. At the end of the day, it was not my hair, my make-up, my outfit nor my gender that was going to matter, it was my skills, knowledge, capabilities and confidence in myself that mattered. Like many superhero stories, this one has a happy ending. Two and a half years later, I achieved exactly those things I aspired to have/be – a Nationally Certified Practicing Project Manager, over $12 million dollars of completed Defence project under my belt AND earning the six-figure salary to match – all because I have the best mentor the industry has to offer, Becky Paroz.
The best part about having two female protagonists is I get
to write two strong, but very different, women. I can explore what it means to
be a strong woman in different settings, without stereotyping what it means to
Case in point: my main character, Gwyn, is nineteen when we first meet her—bit of a dreamer, has a romantic streak. Yet when she is placed under extremely difficult circumstances—namely, is flung back in time to a violent siege—she not only survives; she escapes, forges friendships and ultimately saves some of the people she cares about. Yet she hasn’t lost her romantic side—she is confronted by uncomfortable realities and emotions, doesn’t always behave in a way she might be proud of, is frustrated and often frightened, yet still struggles on in an effort to do what is right.
Michelle on the other hand, fulfils the trope of bad-ass
action hero; kicking butts and taking names. Adaptable, ruthless and
determined, she perseveres through intense physical discomfort in order to do
her duty. She is extremely capable and confident, so she fears little, knowing
she will be able to fight her way out of trouble.
These two characters clash. It’s easy to call Michelle the
strong one, but when you consider how Gwyn not only survives, but succeeds,
without any of the physical and psychological training Michelle has, you
realise how, despite her flaws, Gwyn has a strength of character that continues
to grow despite the hardships thrown at it. Michelle’s personality risks
hardening to breaking point, however, once her support systems are taken away,
and it’s only through some painful self-reflection that she admits that Gwyn’s
coping mechanisms are simply different, not weaker.
Right now I am part way through the last book in this five
book time-travel series. I’ve had the opportunity to showcase each of my
protagonists’ strengths and weaknesses—alone and together—and while they have
formed a working partnership, their respect for each other doesn’t mean they
are now best friends. Strong women don’t have to be the same. They don’t have
to even be friends and have the same interests.
I am surrounded by strong women in my life, some of them
very different. Capable, resourceful, powerful women—they achieve in many
different areas of life. They are all managers to one degree or another:
whether in actual job name, project managing multi-million dollar projects, or
organising finances, renovations, teaching a classroom full of excitable and
challenging students. Many of them are mothers—they have the strength to get up
for the sixth time that night to a crying baby, corral toddlers out the door
with lunches, nappies, spare clothes, water bottles. The strength of mind to
deal with a relentless, unpredictable landscape. Many of them are creatives or
academics, with the self-discipline to see through a multi-year project,
persevering in the face of thankless tasks, with only themselves to hate or
blame when the self-doubt overwhelms them in the seemingly endless days.
But they carry on. They survive, they improve, they
thrive—particularly in the company of other strong women. And it is that theme
I have sought to draw out in my books, that alone, a strong woman is strong,
but together—with others—she is incredible.
Jodie Lane is the
author of Turning Points – a time-travel adventure series that takes readers
from the ancient world to an interstellar future. Based in Brisbane, Australia,
Jodie is an enthusiastic historian, combining her love of travel with
fascinating stories from the past. Find her books at www.jodielane.com or stay up to date with her events and news
Jodie provided this blog on request because Bek loves how she
makes the point that strong women don’t have to like each but they do
need to respect the others skills/beliefs. It is a core part of my belief
system. I am half way through reading Jodie’s first book and am trying to
free up a weekend to binge read the rest. Purchase your copies of Jodie’s
books and anthology contribution here .
Coaching and mentoring are the new
way of saying trades and apprenticeships for those industries that used to use
clerks. That period of “junior internship” type of arrangement that is less
practical and prevalent than it used to be.
Instead now we have many coaches
and mentors, most of who are leveraging their experience in order to support
and nurture a new and emerging wildcard to the industry – the rise of the
The phenomena of self-publishing
has created some monsters that feed off the innocent and new, but has also led to
the ability to access some true industry greats and learn from the leaders.
What is missing in many of these
areas is the commercial aspects (corporate, industrial and even retail skills
are all relevant here) of running a professional business. For people who have not had that experience
before and, generally speaking when one is of a creative nature, they have
never been exposed to that kind of knowledge, never had the chance to learn
those kinds of skills. What is risk
management to an author? The answers
should concern you.
So here is a list of what mentoring
is and isn’t. If you are in the market
for a mentor – keep in mind that you want them to have their own success, not
feel they need to patronise you with promise of your future success, be
genuinely interested in your future success, and not at all busy talking about
their own success when they are with you.
Just a few hints to help narrow down the wide market availability of
those who would soon part you from your hard earned investment.
It’s not telling you what to do
It’s not being upset when you don’t take action
It’s not showing you the ‘right’ way of doing things
It’s not taking care of you or your mental health by replacing any kind of medication or physician/specialist advise (and if they do – run – they are dangerous and unqualified)
It’s not counselling
It’s not training, but it can have some of those elements
It’s someone sitting down, calling you on the excuses you might be telling yourself on why you can’t do anything about where you are in life, communicating those challenges and options professional and without self-interest, and in such a way that you ‘get’ it, not just get told it.
It’s knowing that if you don’t want change, don’t go looking for it. It’s knowing that if you go looking for change, you need to do the work once you find it, and change too.
It’s someone who shows you all the cock-ups they made, all the opportunities they failed to take advantage of, the ones they did take advantage of, and how they achieved the success they did, without telling you to do the same exact thing
It’s showing you the process of how success happens, in which you get out of your own way, changing your mindset to what’s possible instead of what you don’t want, and by sharing the lessons and ideas of performance excellence as applied to your success measures
It’s about support not about ‘help’, you have to do the work
It’s about knowledge combined with experience applied to your circumstances
It’s about getting the best out of your skill, knowledge experience and own personal power to achieve success in life, whatever that looks like for you
It’s about being really clear that you’re worth it and you can earn it
It’s about action. Making plans, setting goals getting clear on what you want, and action.
IT’S ABOUT YOU.
It’s still not parenting.
Becky Paroz doesn’t fit in. She has worked for nearly 30 years in the construction industry, taking names and making one for herself. She loves her workboots, colours her hair purple and speaks loudly with a strong and confident voice. Bek makes her place in the world, she has never waited for a space to open for her. Moving beyond mentoring within industry for the last 10 years, Becky is now seeking her tribe to connect within and would love to hear from any fellow mavericks and nonconformists out there at any of her social media spots which you can find here
women, we are not encouraged by society to ask ourselves “what is in it for me”
as a natural attribute. In fact you may
already be feeling uncomfortable about the question, before you even read the
are told as young women to “behave”, to support and nurture those around
us. Who has heard “nice girls don’t do
that” in a response to a spoken wish, perhaps to something as personal as
desire for a tattoo or even as simple as a haircut.
it comes to time management, as women we usually put ourselves last in
factoring the allocation of minutes to tasks in our work, let alone in our
personal life (and sometimes they are the same). Add children into the equation and there is
even less ability to put ‘you’ first.
Some of that is practical. Some
of that is a societal condition that we have been encouraged to believe – that
we are not allowed to be selfish. And
that definition of selfish can be very broad depending on who wants your
attention. It often gets thrown around
when we, as women, dare to say “NO”.
wants you to stay back and work on his presentation and you have sick family to
attend – “are you going to be the one to let the team down?”. Significant other springs a surprise dinner
party on you for their work colleagues and wonders why you don’t have time;
between soccer, the ballet lessons and cleaning; to just whip up that 3 course
gourmet meal in less than an hour.
Children forget to tell you about a project that is due the next morning
and requires you to build a science project or bake a cake.
of these things are unavoidable and often just have to be dealt with in the
moment. However, ask yourself how many
times, both in work and home life, do you get asked to do something and just
say “yes”? You don’t stop and think, you
don’t know if you have the time, but it becomes easier to just say yes and
worry about ‘how’ later.
if there was a question, that if you allowed yourself to ask it, could help
you, in that moment, to have a second thought and decide on your answer;
instead of that instant, automatic response?
question is “What’s in it for me?”.
WIIFM. This question allows you
to take a moment and realise if the activity you are about to agree to is
something that adds value to you and your life.
When it is to do with your children, the obvious answer is the time you
spend with them, the joy of their achievements and watching them learn. Similar might be said of your significant
other. There are benefits. This question asks you to check in and see
what those benefits are in that moment.
it comes to the work place, often, if you are an achiever, you might find that
you are asked to complete tasks simply because you get them done. Which is fantastic if you receive
acknowledgement of your efforts; a pay rise, or a promotion. How often does that happen?
your senior management thank you for those extra hours, or do they now just
expect it? Do your work colleagues
commend you on the time spent to achieve the outcome, or do they take the
credit for themselves? Do you get any
satisfaction out of what you have achieved, or is it just momentary relief
another task is complete, before you start the next one?
It is not a selfish act to ask, why am
I doing this – what is in it for me? It
is an act of sanity. It allows you the space to realise that this
particular task may not benefit you – and if it doesn’t – allows you to ask
“Why am I undertaking it?”.
you get paid to achieve certain things in your work role, but you don’t get
paid to be treated like a slave or whipping post for others’ inability to meet
deadlines. It is a fabulous skill to be
able to “get things done”, but if you are not getting them done for yourself,
or for some achievement that you want – what is the point? Why are you fixing the mistake of
others? Why are you allowing yourself to
be used in such a manner? You might have
answers to these questions, or you might be wondering to yourself why you
didn’t ask these questions a long, long time ago. The answer
doesn’t matter as much as allowing yourself the space to ask the question in
the first place.
might have to simply undertake the activity, but, now that you have asked the
question, you can be aware that is why you are undertaking the task. If the task isn’t important to you, then you
know to spend the least amount of time on it, and not to engage in sleepless
nights over the outcome. You can let go
a lot of anxiety with this simple little question. It doesn’t mean do it poorly, it means do it
efficiently. Which gives you more time
for the things you do love, such as spending time with family or that hobby you
never get to.
assists you to check in with where you are going, what your goals are, and
filter out the things that do not align with those goals, whatever they may
So, what is in it for you?
Becky has 5 only strategy sessions left between now and May 2019 when her other courses commence. The 3 hours focuses on your #gladiatHER – the warrior that is passionate, fired up, focussed, high functioning and fixated on HER future. The kind of woman who wants to #getyourbootson – who has developed an addiction for success. Want more?
Drop me a line here, private message or via other means (using that amazing concept first thought of by a #woman, #hedylamarr – wifi) and take action now.