Film Crew versus Construction Team

It’s a weird one right?  Who would think that working on a film set would have anything to do with construction.  The tie in is via my Project Manager qualification and the cross over into this world from a position of observation. 

I was safety girl for the film set, a local company that was organising and producing a short film for entry in Cannes Film Festival, and through the power of networking, one of my contacts called upon me to support.  It wasn’t a thrilling suggestion, offer my skills for free in return for … what exactly?  If that sounds selfish, you might recall I am a highly paid and qualified construction project manager, coach, mentor, and published award winning author.  I don’t come cheap and I have worked my ass off all my life to earn that high price.
(see journey to cover girl blog)

However, I also enjoy experiencing new ideas and being able to see alternative ways of doing, how other careers work, and I like to learn new things. When I found out there were children involved, I was sold on the idea. To be a safety manager is an important job, one I take seriously. The entire premise is to make sure people are safe and stay safe, and once you add children, and a new learning experience, it was a pretty easy choice. 
Except they forgot to mention the early starts!  The long hours. The disarray that comes from working with a new team should have been something I had thought of based on my own experiences building skilled teams, but nope. Foolish mortal!

I realised early that it really was so similar to project management in the construction industry, that I spent some time thinking about how the various roles matched my experience. It was good fun, and kept me focused on those 14 hour days when I saw both sunrise and sunset. So here goes, a breakdown of the film crew through the eyes of a construction guru…
First you have the Producer. They are the client in my world, the ones who put up the money.  Our producer was also intimately involved in the film behind the scenes organising, dealing with problems and making sure everyone got fed. I can say not most clients in my work would do that, but it was awesome to have a chance to connect with the person who was responsible for making such a project happen. 

Then there is the Director. It is his vision, his script, his concepts the rest of us were tasked to bring to life. So he is similar to the Design Manager on a project. Creating the vision, the layout, the goals, the ideas from scratch and expecting the construction team to bring it to life. Make it so!  
The Assistant Film Director and the Production Coordinator are the next two people who come to mind. They are the project management team, the project leads in my world. Keeping the Director focused, on time and ensuring the here-and-now outcomes, acting the liaison between the rest of the team and the vision, they are integral to the success of leading the team through the creation process. 

The cinematographer is the Construction Manager.  Using a camera instead of a white board, but nonetheless responsible for interpreting the Director’s vision, he uses his lens, carefully selecting the correct one, at the right height, angle and aperture, in order to capture the creation.  In much the same way that the Construction Manager will ensure the right people and activities occur according to the schedule, he alters the concept from idea to reality. 

Then you have the gripping crew. I struggled at first to place them, but they are the highly skilled operators. Working in close conjunction and consultation with the cinematographer, they use their experience,  judgement and precision plant and equipment to create the very effect that the cinematographer needs, the Director desires, in order to make the vision accurate and highlight the beauty of the creation unfolding. Machine operators are not often viewed as being specialists by those in senior management, nor seen as creators. Without them nothing can happen, nothing works quite as it should, and very little can get accomplished. In both worlds. 

The film cast are the project team. It might seem weird that they are seemingly not important to the overall scheme but they are critical. They are the doers, the people who get the job done while the vision unfolds around them. Following the instructions from a multitude of management, they are the people who act out the collective creation from all that have been mentioned before. 

There was an amazing crew of interns who I would call middle management. The support, the help, the organisers and the runners of the film world, just as they are in the construction industry. Our interns were from a local highschool and they have such bright futures ahead of them from the dedication I saw.  Their teacher was also an incredibly helpful support to them and the film crew on the day. You could call him one of the project sponsors. 

And then there is the art department. Procurement in my world, they obtain the things necessary to assist the vision. The art, the backgrounds, the props, the costumes, they are the procurement specialist, without them, you run the risk of getting the wrong pipe. Or the wrong prop to complete the analogy.   They can make old sheds looks like a mystery world, garages looks like a cavern of treasures and planets look like they were plucked from the sky. 

I almost forgot about the sound department!  Which is understandable, because we mostly take the effect of background – bird calls, machinery hum, wind – for granted… Until it is not there. They are the unseen support crew, something like the surveyors in a project team. They are just there, doing the work, checking the measures, and without them something just doesn’t feel right. It was ironic, or perhaps simply poetic, that the sound crew were some of the quietest members of the set. But so important to the overall finish and polish of the creation. Just like the surveyors of the construction world, without the sound team, you risk the final product not being quite right. 

And if anyone is wondering if I struggled with not being in charge, the answer is yes, I did.  After managing multi-million (think $500 Million average) projects and being the overseer, it was a real problem for me to keep out of the way.  But I did.  After all safety works best when noone realises they are doing their job, but everyone gets to go home. 
And that’s a wrap. 

Mentoring resilience Uncategorized

The Labyrinth of self worth – A Journey from Hardship to Covergirl!

The year of Cyclone Tracey in Darwin, and a year that Brisbane experienced extreme floods, I was born in Perth, Australia. For a long time in my life it seemed that axis of bad luck overshadowed me. This week I am the cover girl for the second anniversary release of a women’s empowerment magazine, “the thinking woman’s”, magazine as it markets itself. YMag. It’s been a process.

I never had much belief that other people would see me in this way. I had a long journey through self-worth, confidence and I required a massive amount of resilience to overcome the circumstances of my early childhood to gracing a front page of anything!

I’ve worked in the construction industry for about 30 years now and that is a tough gig. Not because I am a woman, although that provides a few challenges to some of the men, but because it is a harsh industry. Extreme conditions, tight deadlines, limited budget and long hours. I feel like I’ve worked three jobs for my whole life – it is usually 13 hour days, it can be 7 days a week, and it is relentless. Buildings, roads, rail, your water supply – these things don’t happen by magic, they happen because of the sweat, the effort, and the talents of many people. I am one of those people.

It took me years to see that my ability to solve problems, manage and encourage people, understand legislation and interpret technical data are incredible talents. It took me forever to acknowledge to myself that I was not just good at what I do, I’m great at it. You don’t get positive feedback in the construction industry. Or, as one boss put it when I was seeking some form of input as to my capabilities, if you are still working, if you are employed and not told to “get out” you are doing your job well enough. And that’s the extent of the positive feedback.

Times are changing, slowly and somewhat reluctantly, but that idea that if you still have a job you are doing okay, still pervades the industry. It is why I am a respected project manager, because I re!ember all the things I struggled with, and I make sure my team doesn’t. I communicate, engage and provide positive feedback. Because I never had it and I would have been even more motivated to work harder. If that was possible, because I am an all-or- nothing kind of person already.

There is no fence-sitting for me. I make decisions decisively, which is an attribute that has flowed over into my personal life. In fact I project manage my own life just as much, if not better, than I manage my construction projects. The skills I fought so hard to learn in my career have been invaluable in my personal life and have caused me to be determined, to never give up, to just make it work, and to not waste time on regret, chagrin, beating myself up over errors or waste emotions on things I cannot change.

It has caused me to win awards, to be recognised as delivering quality, to be known as something who just gets things done. I never let anyone see how alone, how solitary and how disconnected I was from the view of others. That imposter syndrome that no matter what feedback I did get, it was highly unlikely to me that it was true.

It is only since taking on mentoring females in the industry about 15 years ago now, seeing this support and knowledge I can provide to them, their reliance on my input and relief that there is someone who gets it, who has been there, who can reassure them that they “got this” that I realise that I didn’t have that. There was no one, as I developed my career, who could provide that for me, because there were no other women around who had been there and done what I had. There were so few of us in the industry at my level, that we didn’t even know of each other, let alone support each other. It is dark and lonely in the oubliette. This relates to trades as well an engineer’s and project managers.

It is changing now and so many more women are making their mark in such brilliant ways, but not 30 years ago. It is why I do what I do, because I experienced what it took to make it through that journey. The Labyrinth of self respect, self regard and self worth. But it wasn’t until I had this experience reflected back at me through coaching and me tiring others, that I understood just how tough, how remarkable, how resilient, how confident I had to be in order to get to where I did. So it was time to own it. To stop seeking validation externally and start providing it internally. I never knew how confident I actually was until I started showing someone else how to be confident.

So when the chance to really showcase myself was presented, I took it. I didn’t doubt, or worry about what others would think, about whether I was the right type of person, or even if anyone else would get it. I just did it. Like I have my entire career, I just backed myself and leapt. I held onto my self-worth and my self-belief and said to my imposter syndrome – you have no power over me. I said yes. Yes to showing the world that I have come from a land so distant to me now it’s just a fairy tale of my childhood, through hardships untold and dangers unnumbered, I have powered my way to this cover girl, to take my place on the cover of this powerful magazine. For my will is as strong as it ever was, and my abilities greater than I could ever see while I was developing them.

It is another milestone, another achievement, one that I am very proud of, but I won’t be stopping any time soon. There are more adventures to be had. Join me if you dare to realise your greatness too.

resilience

Competition is NOT a Dirty Word

I see so many women hate on the word “competition”.

An Aussie woman, Ashleigh Barty, just won the French Open… Do you think she shies away from a little competition?  Congrats Ashleigh, while I am here, you are amazing! Pretty sure Ms Barty competed her ass off to win this award!

Our Olympic winners, do you think that they don’t compete?  Every day they compete with themselves and their personal best, to be just a little better than before.  We celebrate them, and if we don’t, we certainly should.  

So that is okay, so maybe it is just when women compete.. what… with each other?  That’s what Olympians do also. There is a first, second, third, and all the others.  Sometimes the others get a mention, like when they just keep going no matter what, but do we remember them?  Nope. But we celebrate the Gold Medallist don’t we? 

We join clubs and point systems and rewards than give us “Gold class” versus “Diamond” or “Platinum” levels.  Isn’t that a form of competition? Who has the higher level? These systems are designed to make sure we compete to get to that higher, glossier, more “privileged” level, aren’t they?  But that seems to be okay. Maybe that is competition with the “corporations” because we believe we are getting more out them than most, or maybe that is a competition with ourselves, to “level up”.

So why don’t we women “compete”, when quite clearly, we do, and we do it well in certain areas?

Is it because we compete against other women, and there is already enough out there telling us that we are too fat, too thin, too blonde, too shy, too prosaic, too plain, too pretty, TOO MUCH?  Is it that we are just joining the party and using the “women don’t compete line” to actually drag another women down because she wants to be a winner? Because maybe, we, ourselves, can’t compete, so we perpetuate a myth than means we don’t have to strive, to animate, to be better than yesterday, knowing we will better again tomorrow? What is wrong with wanting to win? 

I don’t think that is it, I see plenty of women getting their game on, hustling, entrepreneuring, creating, making, fulfilling, being out there in the world.  

I saw an article recently that stated :

“leadership has been a predominantly male arena and as a result, typically “masculine” qualities such as decisiveness, resilience and confidence, have been viewed as paramount.”

Erm, they are paramount and they aren’t “masculine”.  It is not a gendered word. I am sick of being “masculine”, “feminine” or some other category that I did not sign up to, but someone else thinks that I must be “this way” because of some daft gendered suggestion.  I am not masculine because I am resilient, because I can make decisions, because I am confident.

I am these things because I created myself this way, because I chose it, because I wanted it.  And I am a woman, heaven forbid! But I rose through the ranks of the construction industry as a female, and I will be damned if I reduce myself in any of these areas because some article designed to sell something suggests I am and have “masculine characteristics”   And if I do, what is the big deal with that?

Women raise the children, predominantly, and this is changing, but it is still mostly true for most families.  So when you are raising that child each day making decisions, you aren’t being decisive? Of course you are, whether you see it that way or not.  Making bad decisions is not less than decisive, it just means you like learning by experience.  

Experiencing breast cancer and over-coming the every day struggle that it is to just keep going, have faith, believe that there is hope and recovery – that is resilience even if you don’t have the energy to say the word. 

Being on stage and presenting requires a great deal of confidence and we see women more and more taking that stage.  Are they really women because they are confident? Or have they embraced being a man, being “masculine”.

Of course not, the suggestion is ridiculous. 

And so is the suggestion that these things are masculine in their intent, context and delivery.  I really get sick of women creating this divide and then wondering why they can’t be taken seriously in the world arena.  If anything, the suggestion of these traits as masculine or feminine are perpetuating the belief that there is one way to be if you are a man and one way to be if you are a women.  And that is simply not true. It also perpetuates the myth that men are less than women because they have these traits, and I think that is a pile of bullshit too.

And that denies the rights of women that have been fought over for years, the ability for our ladies to be in the defence force, fly planes, vote, own property, you know, “manly things”.  

The entire concept that confidence is masculine is absurd.  Confidence is defined as: full trust; trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing, belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance

Are we still in an era where we don’t want that for our daughters?  That our sons aren’t as good as our daughters if they have these traits.  When you break that statement down like this, it is entirely ridiculous.

I compete every day.  I compete with myself to be better, more intelligent, know more, be greater, achieve higher.  I compete in my role because I represent a company and I need to be the best I can be for that role, it is what I am paid to do.

I reject the idea that competition is masculine and has no place in a woman.  I reject the mythology that surrounds the “feminine” and the “masculine” and that they are somehow less than or worse than the other.

What I embrace is that we can all, both male, female, and non-gendered, non-binary and nonsensical if that is how you roll, is that we can all have these traits if we choose to.  We need to stop vilifying words in the attempt to one up the scale and continue the gender divide. And to sell from a platform that perpetuates this divide.

I embrace my resilience, I am confident enough to say it and I won’t be changing my decisiveness to do so any time soon.  Join me if that doesn’t make you afraid of being the best version of you, because that is the competition I am in. 

Empowering resilience

Time Enough for Resilience

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.

resilience

I’m Finally Outing Myself As A Coach

“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.  

And then….

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

resilience

Resilience – Your Greatest Asset

Bek: Image Credit @Pam Hutchinson Photography

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?

RESILIENCE

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.


If you would like to talk to me about being RESILIENT in your life please fill in the form below to contact me:

resilience