2019 – A Trifecta of Triumph

What a year! It’s been filled with trials, tribulations, and triumphs of a seriously epic nature. Even for a life lived in construction, which usually means every day is an adventure.

It started with a drive to Melbourne to collect not one, but two monsters. They look like Rhodesian Ridgebacks but they are monsters. They turned one year old in October, but in January, they were small(ish), and cute, and cuddly. Puppy cuddles are the best thing ever. And while I was dealing with that, it was announced I was awarded one of the Top Ten Women to Watch, for YMag, in 2019.

Baby Monsters

I could say I was consumed with adoration for my new baby puppies, which is still true, but I was also… Uncertain how to deal with this.

I’d won a truckload of awards previously, but always within my industry, my workplace, my comfort zone. This was not. It was public, judged by women, and made me sound… Amazing. Not something I am used to. In my world being amazing was how I operated every day and was expected. It wasn’t celebrated. Maybe applauded on occasion.

So I kind of ignored it. I told people, and I was excited, but that was about it. Next, I was invited to talk in India at an incredible conference and everything was booked. Going to see the Taj Mahal has been a goal for my engineering heart forever…. Yes, I’m nerdy that way. Love a well designed and constructed building. And then… You could see that coming right? Less than a week out from the flight, I was rushed to emergency and has my gall bladder and a few floating stones removed. 7mm in size – I don’t do anything by halves! No wonder it hurt. So that plan got squished and I had 6 weeks to do very little but think and recover. Not great for someone who lives life at full tilt.

I am trying to offer my experience and skills as a mentor and coach to other women, because I really want to show women they don’t have to let circumstances of their life rule their outcomes, and so I took the opportunity to be featured in the next two YMag releases, one of which was as a cover girl (, another very weird episode in this year’s adventures. Again, not something that I fully realised would be so confronting until I saw my face all over social media… Again and again and again…!

I was mentoring a wonderful and successful businesswoman as part of my NAWIC contributions and she also happens to be the VP of the Australian chapter. She felt I should apply for the Qld awards for all my efforts in the Industry, and gave me pause for thought.

What better way to reach the women I want to mentor, to showcase the potential of a career in construction, to lead by example than to be recognised by my peers. I did enter and that led me to be awarded the Crystal Vision trophy against a field of very worthy fellow finalists. I was so proud of this award because I felt I had earned this one many times over in 30 years of service and shit shoveling.

Life was pretty good, and I had another speaking engagement for the YFactor experience and so of course, life punched down. The day before my baby girl, my not-quite-one-year-old doggo nearly died from an allergic reaction. I got her to the vets just in time, and don’t ask me any more details as the speeds were highly illegal and dangerous) but then had to make the decision to leave her brother with her at the vets all weekend for monitoring while I prepared myself to wow women with wondrous words on stage. While experiencing mum guilt for the first time ever in my life. How any women gets past the crippling guilt of leaving their child (and mine was four-legged, not like I’d personally popped this one myself) and doing anything in the world is truly award-worthy!

By now I was getting used to the “social leverage” of this kind of event, so I did make some waves about the Crystal Vision Award and embraced being fabulous just a little more.

And then… Less than a few weeks ago, I won another award. This one was even further outside of my experience again, and the category was one that received the highest amount of nominees, so you imagine my pleasure at being in the top five. You can imagine my surprise when it was my name that was read out as gold, winner. First. Fearless Educator.

And I feel like that truly sums me up. Fearless. Educator. It goes to my brand of #GladiatHER, the warrior women who go after what they want, who live out loud, who make noise, make waves, and take no shit. Who holds out a hand to another woman and lifts them up because they know what it is like to be alone, to be a forerunner, to be a disruptor, to not have support.

So now I am roaring my success and making it all about you next year. I have been told by friends they plan to beat my record in 2020. I hope so. I want them to.

And I will offer my guidance, experience, my multi-award- winning knowledge, to support them in any way. To make sure they exceed my achievement. Because if I can do it, so can they. I believe in them, probably even more than I have believed in me sometimes. And I believe in me pretty strongly. After all, I have a trio of triumph from this year to remind me how seriously amazingly awesome I have become. A trilogy of trophies. A triplet of testimonials. A triumph of tenacity. A true testament to overcoming trials.

And 2020 is going to huge for me. This is just the beginning of me making sure the world knows I am ready to be louder, bigger, brighter, bolder, and even more successful. Because what else is it all for but to inspire you to do your best?

Becky Paroz

Because what else is it all for but to inspire you to do your best?

Fluff Mentoring New Year

YFactor 2019!

This is a recap of my attendance at #YFactor2019 and not paid advertising.

It is a truth, sometimes unacknowledged, that large groups of women are, sometimes, a little scary to other women. The tropes are rife in social media. The backlash is strong when a woman speaks her mind about something unpopular. It is a scary place in the world today to be a woman who speaks her mind.

Not so at the YFactor. Hosted by team who also brings you #YMag, this two day conference bought together entrepreneurial business women from around Australia and allowed them a safe space to share their journeys, their insights and their passion : their ‘Y’.

I have been through the conference circuits many times. I have attended and spoken at industry, professional, educational, and empowerment conferences and been in the audience for many more. I saw Jane Caro speak before she was a household name. I knew Jack Delosa when he was training to be the powerhouse he now is. Yes I am also older than I look!

And I have never attended a conference like this. The stories were powerful, visceral and real. If you are keen to find out more, any copy of YMag will showcase these incredible women and I absolutely recommend you grab the latest copy to hear from the utterly beautiful soul that is Bec McMillan (https://www.facebook.com/luminouscrystalxo/).

Her story had everyone feeling all of the feels. And it was beautiful. I have never seen 60 women all focused on supporting and loving another woman in the way that this room responded. There were breakdowns, breakthrough and breakouts. You will find out about the cage dancing if you join us, because I believe there are plans next year to double down.

Throughout the whole event there was support. There were tissues, pens, and wisdom shared between women from all walks of life and with vastly different experience. What was missing, was judgement.
Just think of how powerful that statement is. To be in a room full of women and no judgement. It is a microcosm of the world we wish we lived in. It was an absolute credit to the team who put it together.

And me? I met new friends and made new connections with women I never would have interacted with in my other lives. I put on he performance of my life in delivering my speech and loved ever minute of that freedom – I love presenting, but the chance to perform…. Well you don’t get that at an engineering conference!

I felt accepted, welcomed, even appreciated in a way that I personally have never experienced from a group of women. I met some #gamechangers #thoughtleaders #innovators and #disrupters
I met women who cared, who loved, who gave, and who are going to rock this world.

And I am one of them.

#GladiatHER
#speaker #presentet #performer

Uncategorized

The Writer versus Pain

must write have to write need to write,  write write write, right? #wordvomit #bingewriting  

It’s hungry and the only way to feed it is to pour the words out, vomit and explode them into the page as fast as you can before the ideas the language the colour the flow, it goes 

It must be captured in that moment because it is beauty it is fleeting it is pure it is perfect   It flows.  

A torrent of picture described in 26 characters and punctuation! A emotional upheaval via ideal twist, a niche observance, and marketing wizardry splitting of the dross of daily writing from the rare jewel like brilliant moments where the intersection of subject matter knowledge intersects with creative/explosive epiphany while keeping in perfect alignmenty goodness with world vision, characters and plot arcs planned… 

It is a sublime and spectacular events that is like a super-blood-redpunkblue-closertotheearththanever before moon it so rarely can happen.  

Except then your gall ball removal uncorks the genie of words and you have them ALL THE TIMES. All of them. All of the times. Like the time you’re sleeping. Muse/bitch wakes you up to tell you that storyline that you just plotted, what if you changed the order?  If you did this and this and this and did it this way…. 

About to hit yes on a phone call, but Muse-y warrior gets all dictator on your ass and demands you write that sentence down, finish that paragraph because if you don’t get it down now…. 

She doesn’t give two shits if it’s your boss. Or client. Or your editor.  

WRITE WRITE WRITE RIGHT NOW 

She is the storm.  

The writer is exhausted because they are but the side effects of the battle between the Muse, so eloquent, so voluble, so verbose, so needy, so won’t shut up, versus the Pain. Sorry THE PAIN… 

The pain of arthritis, that never-ever-ever-ending-friend who won’t ever fucking leave and the pain of the gallstone passed both conspire to keep the Writer down resting and  

ssshhhh….. Now. If arthritis is the nanna who sit y your side knitting and telling you sage avice that is completely useless and unhelpful and you just wish she would fuck right off, then PAIN is her teenage grand-daughter who is overindulged by nanna and can do no wrong.  She is all about expression.  She is a cunt. 

The Writer also conspires by doing dumb shit like interacting with her 2 Ridgebacks puppies, which do as puppies do, and jump and clump and pull and push. The writer keeps thinking that today it won’t hurt. The writer is a genius in every other way but cannot stop doing dumb shit when the body says nooooo.  

The Writer and Arthritis have been in a war /friendszone relationship for over 25 years now. They know battle lines, actions versus reactions and how the other thinks acts and breaths. Besties.  At least the familiar and the known.  

But the new player Ghost of Gall Stone Passed has bought back an old player.   

And old player pushed off the chess board or at least blocked like a rook in a corner… until now.  

PAIN IS BACK BITCHES and she has more piercings than ever. Cranking the apolcayptic-Scottish-death-metal-with-monk-chanting-punk-mixup banshee noise she calls music, PAIN strides in, her docs and oversized safety pins clanking, kicks a chair into place and says  

(look away now children or the easily offended)  

OI CUNT. IM BACK. YOURE A FUCKINGLAMEASSMOTHERFUCKER AINT YA 

POOR PRICK SUX TO BE YOU RIGHT NOW 

I’M NOT HERE TO MAKE IT ANY BETTER…. 

and then she switches tone and get down real low in your ear and you’re lying there as the Writer and you’re starting to sweat and not writhe in pain already given and the anticipation of a fresh batch in any form in any place will be a searing poker stabbed between two ribs stirring something deep within.  

Will it be a twitch that spasms but not at regular intervals so you can’t plan and you can’t win and you can sleep and you cannot be comfortable?  Will be a searing stab inside the lining of your bones?   

As PAIN leans in, her lips practically touching your ear and she stage whispers… 

If you won’t stay still I will fuck you up. I will fuck you up so bad and so many ways you will wish for death. I will do things to you that you can’t describe and then I will make it worse. Do not mess with us.  

The Writer sees the other Evil Bitch in this horror story, knitting needles held ready to defend….who?  the Writer is not sure what, or who, the needles are for and fear overcomes…  

They have formed an alliance, PAIN and Arthritis. The punk teenager with a gift for pain and the old lady who is as deadly with her knitting needles as she is with her tongue and her inability to shut up about my joints; they are now A TEAM. A formidable army of ineptitude, inability and sanctioned violence upon the body of the Writer.  

The Ghost of Gall Stone Passed howls with laughter’s that echoes down tomb like halls and the cold stone hallways to finally reach the heart of the Writer.  The maniacal cackle echoes around hollowly, sounding like lost dreams… lost time… lost words… 

It is suddenly chilly, lonely, deserted, creepy, malignant, eerie, and echo-y. The Writer is alone with the Ghouls suddenly and aware that there needs to be caution… 

The Writer is willing, please no more I will be good I will rest I will remind to myself and I will accept what you are trying to tell me.  

The Writer tries to makes deals with the Devils, or the Angels, never sure which, and pleads that being good will return good favour from them all.  Please? 

The Muse stirs…. 

Fluff Writing

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

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

The Importance of a Mentor

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.

Mentoring 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 somewhere. 

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. 

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. 

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.

Problem solver – 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 

OR

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.

To be Continued in the next blog on 10 Jan 2019 …

Mentoring

Everyday Passion

A New Year Story

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. 

Passionate New Year to you all.

Mentoring

Writer versus Project Management

The framework of project management applied to the practice of writing, the use of a professional tool in your creative works

The Key Principles

Project Management in Australia is based
on the PMBoK (TM) and uses the following
framework to achieve an outcome or
goal:
• Scope
• Cost
• Schedule
• Risk
• Procurement
• HR
• Quality
• Stakeholder Management
• Communications

Scope

What is your book about?
Must be pretty cheap to make a book these days, every is doing it.
I reckon I’ve got a book in me…

Why, for what audience, by when and for how much are you producing this book? How do you determine what is client satisfaction – the project complete?

For your plot, how do you summarise what you need to have happen and the step along the way according to the following considerations:
• Plot
• Length of Story – both in words and in story timeline

Cost

The cost of editing, publishing, marketing, illustrating,
writing, printing, selling, appearing, talking,
promoting, and otherwise begging for anyone to buy
your book now it’s complete…
The cost of writing to your life:
• Time
• Sacrifice
• Imposter Syndrome
• Mental Health
• Motivation

The cost in your plotting, why the conflict occurs and
who it affects most, what is the payoff at the end?

Schedule

When do you find time to write?
Must be nice to have all that time to just sit and write.
I’d love to write a book but I would never have the time. Routine is over rated, but kind of helpful in getting the habit of writing practiced and actually finishing a project. Or a novel.

In your pantsing, how can you keep your writing to the point and focussed on the outcome, not getting sideline by subplots, other ideas that look shiny, new book concepts, marketing, social media, people…

Risk

What could possibly go wrong? Consider things like keeping two copies of your work and saving regularly and backing up your work. Have a agreements in writing with people who are “supporting” you – editors, publishers, book-sellers, cover artist… Try to make sure that when you publish your book, it remains YOUR book. Read the fine print.

When you are plotting and pantsing, this is all of the reasons we write, we love what we do and the bit that makes it worth while to write, when we ask of our characters… What could go wrong?

Procurement

All of the other things you have to write for…
• Website
• Social media
• Hashtag everything
• Speeches, press releases, and readings OH MY!
Plus writers photos and inspo backgrounds and time. Do we know anyone who has stock in time? In order to save money, or spend money, or both. The experts you need to assist in the polish of your writing aren’t taking exposure bucks for payment either. While still writing, what else does your MC need to achieve the scope? What risks will they take to obtain it and how will that affect the timeline of the story?

HR

What team do you need around you and what skills are they offering? What are your weaknesses and can you find someone with a complimentary set to help you meet your scope and schedule and just keep writing? Did you even know the other skills you are supposed to have when you decided to be a writer? Surprise!

Does your MC have the skills to pay the bills? How has their life contributed to the skills set they suddenly need in order to achieve the scope, is that the point of the story or is that subordinate to the plot? Is it the character development they need and who will assist them? How will they procure this help, pay for it, and what will it do to the schedule?

Quality

What you wanted to create versus what you actually created. Where did you go in your journey as a writer and will you use it next time to make you a better writer (continuous improvement) ? How much did you invest (time, money, etc) versus the reward, personally or financially, or both, that you and others received from this experience? Are your readers responding to this?

Are your characters and your plot, your outcomes and your delivery what the scope was originally? How did it change the story and did it make it better? How far from the plan did you go?

Stakeholder Management

Juggling family, career, study, learning, work, expectations, appointments, life, writing, marketing, begging for sales… Rinse, repeat… The writer is also a stakeholder in this mix and sometimes, you just get to pick one or maybe two of the framework categories to focus on today. And let tomorrow take care of itself. At least you have a plan to come back to. Or sort of. Maybe. Lets check the schedule…

As you MC finishes their journey through the maze, the plot twists and the resolves all the risks, who else is changed by this adventure? How will this benefit those around the MC? And will they make it through the editing process?

Communications

The sales pitch. How do we sell ourselves, our products, our wares, our words, when we have spent so much time nurturing them and protecting them from risk. What do we say when asked “what is that book you’re writing about again?”
The very word needed and the bloody thesaurus just won’t work properly enough for you to find it and you’ve just lost 2 hours to time and space vortex or alphabet soup. And did you get that social medial blog post website update new blurb written yet?

When all is over and the arc is resolved, did the MC and cast carry out the vision, the mission and achieve the scope. Did they gain the rewards and complete the project in full? And most of all, did they satisfy the client requirements? Are you happy with what you wrote, and are your readers?

And They All Lived Happily Ever After

Breaks the process of creating a book into manageable portions and separate from the process of writing the book. Help build categories of knowledge for use and re-use as you produce more work. Gives you a different angle to examine writer’s block and other associated writers’ problems. You can discard any category if not relevant to the outcomes at any time, or re-instate it.

Gives you an overall pathway to finalising aspects of your novel and a new way of looking a your writing once complete to see if you have left any key details out of your world building. And your world domination plans.

Provides a reference point to where you wanted your journey to take you, even if you didn’t follow it, you can still see how far you made it.

Mentoring Writing

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

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