I was talking with a magician the other day. It’s not what you think. I was working at an international conference speaking about Managing Your Manager. The person I was speaking with was the conference manager. Compare your job to hers and you’ll understand why I think she’s a magician. You might want to develop those same magical qualities for your job.
Here’s what she does. She selects speakers, arranges sessions, orders audiovisual requirements, coordinates travel and manages the deadlines for the conference. There could be ten simultaneous programs scheduled for many hours of the conference. She coordinates the materials and deadlines for each of those presenters. Many of them are located in different time zones all over the world. Then she oversees the people that handle the conference attendees. How many people attend the conference? Thirty thousand people. That’s more people than some small cities. There’s also a trade show at this conference with hundreds of exhibitors. Now imagine the potential headaches from a small city of people involved in that many activities. That’s why I think she’s a magician. She makes the headaches go away.
Here’s an example. You have a 7 AM session planned for the next day. It’s 4:30 PM the day before and the speaker hasn’t sent you his PowerPoint after pleading with him several times over the previous months via email and telephone. As 5 PM approaches, in walks the speaker with his program. That’s the good news. With a quick call to the audio visual team, the program is loaded onto the computer and ready for the next day.
Then the phone rings. A speaker’s flight is cancelled and he won’t arrive for his scheduled presentation the next day. It’s time for a quick decision. Can another program be scheduled? It wouldn’t matter. The schedule has been printed. It’s too late. She calls a staff member to change the signage that announces the program. It’s now cancelled. She says, “Well, at least I got one program on. I’m not worrying about the other.” I marveled at her calm acceptance of defeat and how she quickly moved on without blaming herself.
What’s your reaction when you experience defeat in business? Do you blame yourself and begin to doubt your judgment? Then you follow with endless questioning of yourself? If that’s the case, let me show you another approach. First, ask yourself if you did everything you could to prepare for the situation. If you did, then ask yourself what can you do differently next time. Then make plans to do that new step. Last, let it go. The blame game has to stop—and women seem to be so good at it.
This conference manager probably sees more challenges in one day running a conference than many of us see in a month at our jobs. She knows the problems are coming. Her job is to do the best she can to prevent problems. Her magic is to minimize the effects of the problems once they occur. If you plan for and accept the problems that occur at work and stop blaming yourself, you’ll be far more effective at your job. The results might surprise you. It might even seem like magic.