Slugs and butterflies: When a mentor can really lead personal transformation…
How can a slug fly with the butterflies, if it’s only a slug?
For years, I suffered from 'sticky floor’ syndrome. What held me back was the weight of my self-limiting beliefs. You name it, it was in my self-limit luggage. I worked hard to break free and came close a couple of times, but something always threw me right back to where I started. My career had been a series of unfortunate events. I came to accept that this was where I was meant to be - dragging my feet along the sticky floor, I made a living and my expectation load was light.
For a while I was happy, very happy in fact. Then an event stopped me dead in my tracks and I realised that this wasn't enough. I couldn't continue doing what I was doing, every day, for the next 20 years. I needed to change and quickly, I had more to offer and - the old career clock was ticking. Lucky for me, at that same time fate stepped in and someone saw something in me that I hadn’t seen. They offered to help me step up to the next level. They took a big chance on me and I jumped up off the sticky floor!
Is this the happy ending? And why the strange title? You may ask!
So, here goes. As I surveyed my new surroundings, I was in awe. Everyone completed each task with skill and grace - like beautiful corporate butterflies, each surrounded by caterpillars hungry for knowledge, who in turn would become butterflies. Then there was me! I looked at myself and saw a slug pretending to be a caterpillar - an imposter! My self-limiting luggage reappeared and I thought a slug can only ever be a slug, nothing more or nothing less.... I wanted to crawl away and hide. I wanted to give up. Who was I to dare to step away from my designated station and try to be something that I was not meant to be? Fate and Luck had dealt a cruel blow and I had dared to believe.
Thankfully, the person who saw a butterfly in me was there to stop me crawling away
Fast forward 2 years to where I am today. I didn't jump back to the safety of the sticky floor - I wanted to but I didn't. I didn't let my self-limiting beliefs suffocate me - I've turned blue a few times, but I kept breathing. I didn't give up - and trust me I wanted to. I didn't change overnight - it's taken time and hard work, and I am still not where I want to be - but I am on the way.
But I didn't do this alone - I've been very fortunate to belong to a great team who've encouraged me all the way. They've lifted me to heights I could only imagine. I've learned so much, come so far, been challenged to do things I never dreamt of. Perhaps the most important thing, I am accepted as part of the team, not the imposter slug I thought I was (and still do on occasion! I can't lie, the slug makes an appearance every now and then). I am not an outsider, and a visitor to their team, I am a team member and I have learned how to be an effective team member.
Taking the leap of faith is only the first step, it takes determination, guts, a sense of purpose and plenty of help and advice. The hardest things to overcome are the self-limiting beliefs. For me, I had to build up my confidence and start to believe that I could succeed. I also had to believe that fate and luck weren’t driving my destiny, it was me, I had to take control. Giving up is the easy route. Blaming things beyond my control, like fate and luck were my ‘go to’ rationale for failure. On reflection, and looking back on what I've done and how far I've come, it never ceases to surprise me! It’s the sense of journey and achievement that keeps me going and knowing that I can make the difference.
What happened to transform me into a butterfly?
Two years ago, Wendy Dean took a chance on me and I joined the Strategi Solutions team as the Office Manager, taking the team to a grand total of 3. Since then, Strategi has gone from strength to strength and now there are 20 of us to date. 20 very talented people in HR, Design, PR, Social Media, Learning and Development, Coaching, Health and Safety and me, I’m now Company Secretary.
What Wendy saw in me was far removed from what I could see in myself. But, Wendy doesn’t take chances and risks, she has worked hard to bring together a brilliant group of people, who in turn work hard to deliver excellent service to all clients. Although Wendy does coach different people, Wendy didn’t coach me, she mentored me. She showed me opportunities, gave advice and shared her expert opinions and recommendations. She instilled in me a sense of well-being, purpose and ‘can do’. I couldn’t have become what I am without Wendy’s guidance, but I have had to prove that her belief in me was well placed. Going forward, my team coaches me and I am constantly learning. I work with some talented people and hence I've learnt from the best. I'm not stuck to the floor anymore. I'm constantly moving in a purposeful direction. I'm in my second year to becoming a qualified accountant, and part of the strategic team. If I can get this far, anyone can!
If you too want to break free of the sticky floor or have taken that leap of faith and need some guidance on moving further forward, Strategi Solutions can help. If you work for an SME in Staffordshire, we run a series of courses that are totally free (within funding criteria).
Or, if you're interested in 1 to 1 coaching or mentoring, we offer this too.