Sunday, April 19, 2015

Now ... about that conference

The picture does not do
it justice.  We were well
fed during our stay.
I truly dislike conferences ...

I don't like conferences, classes, lectures ... I don't like big crowds, loud environments, situations where I may be expected to interact with people I do not know ... and sometimes even with people I do know.

I made a promise to my manager, to my therapist and most importantly to myself that I would go into this event knowing that I would get something positive out of it ... and I would look for positive items to take with me ...

but let's rewind a bit ...

If this conference had been a year ago ... three years ago ... any time in the past I would have the same checklist of worries

- Will it be crowded ... loud ... hectic
- Will I be expected to interact ... talk ... answer questions
- Will I stay focused ... pay attention ... will my mind wander
- Will I make a decent impression or will I look like a fool

This year there was the added concerns

- Will I be accepted as or treated like Tiffanie, or will my legal name haunt me.
- How will I be mentally after flying halfway across the country

Well ... the company treated me wonderfully.  The hotel room was reserved for Tiffanie ... my name tag for the conference said Tiffanie ... that made me feel very welcome and happy.

There were a couple of mis-genderings from people who have known me for a long time, but that is expected ... and they were quickly corrected.

This is a positive ... and a huge confidence booster.

As far as the crowded, concentrating, interacting, looking foolish, mind wandering while talking issue ... this is where you would expect me to go on a tangent about difficulties caused by anxiety ... being introverted ... ADHD ... depression ... whatever.


This isn't about that.

Whatever the issues are that cause me to lose focus or causes my mind to wander ... why ever it is I feel uncomfortable interacting in groups or speaking to people, these issues have been a part of me my entire life.  I learned to work with or around my issues before I fully understood what they were.  Knowing the root cause is starting to make it a little easier.

Did I feel uneasy during the welcome ... in a fancy room with hundreds of people and multiple big wigs at the table in front of me?

Yes.  I felt like the kid at the front of the assembly at school fearing that I would be volunteered or pointed out for something.  But like back then, nothing bad happened ... and I learned a different perspective about why the company is doing what it is doing ... and what it is leading to.

This is a positive.

Even though I followed behind my manager like a lost puppy the entire first day I was beginning to feel a little comfortable ... like I belonged there.  Being in the same breakout groups with her made things a little easier, but I would have survived either way.

Did I learn anything new about safety issues or making an action plan in the first breakout group?

Did I mention we were well fed?
The most incredible white chocolate
macadamia cookies ever!
Well ... yes.  I learned the corporate total numbers and was floored.  How can a company that transports children have so many accidents and injuries.  Safety is my highest priority ... but ... the numbers from my yard are a part of that total.

If I expect the company numbers to go down I need to focus on my own yard.

I learned how to use tools like the action plan in a better way ... to get more benefits from it.

I even spoke up ... voiced an opinion and a concern in this group.

Positive, positive ... and positive.

After lunch my manager and I presented an idea for extra training we believe would be beneficial for our drivers to one of the area big wigs.  I even had the confidence to discuss an issue of concern regarding buses in my bus yard ... well spoken and to the point ... able to answer his questions and explain why it is such a big concern.

Positive, positive ... positive ... ... positive.

Was there anything interesting in the "One Minute Manager" session?

Yes ... I captured some good blackmail video of my manager and the area executive assistant.  Alright ... not really, but I did video them doing a fun game - an exercise dealing with stacking cups.  It demonstrated how you can start with one main objective and how easy it is to lose ... or how difficult it can be to get back to it.

I can use this in my training ... somehow.

The book itself has a lot of good information.  It is not very well written (in my opinion) but the concepts are pretty easy and useful.

Positive ... positive and funny.

There was a little sensory overload issue at the dinner on Tuesday evening.  Dozens ... hundreds of people in a room eating ... talking ... clanging the silverware on the plate ... shuffling around the room.  I became a little ... then a lot overwhelmed.  I was done eating, so I politely excused myself.

I walked around outside for a while ...

Even that is a positive.  Not removing myself from the situation causing the anxiety ...that's a no brainer.  Being able to bring myself back to a level of calm and enjoy the rest of the evening ... that may have been the big win for me that day.  I was able to focus on everything that was good rather than the short period of discomfort.

Wednesday can be reduced down to this - Positive.

The group of training supervisors and area directors of safety discussing the company audit, company policies, focusing on safety and ... and getting to know each other.

We were told that the company person who handles work comp would not be available because she was speaking to the managers.  I asked, "Can she at least come in and say hi?  I'd like to meet the voice on the other end of the phone."

"That's a good idea," was the reply.  They made it happen.

Insert suggestion 2 about information in the database ... input on issue 3 ... a couple other conversations ...

"That's good."  "Tiffanie has a good idea."  "She has the right answer."

I met people from different areas ... I found out that other supervisors have the same issues and questions I do ... I met area directors from other regions.

A magnet for Pam
A snow-globe for me
Sort of a reminder to
myself that there is more
to life than what you see
inside your little bubble

Positive, positive, positive ... positive and confidence boosting ... positive and making me feel good ... positive.

So I promised myself that I would take something positive from this conference, and I did ... but not so much all the things I accomplished and learned during the meetings ...

Everything about this conference was about pushing myself outside my comfort zone.

This was not stepping to the edge of that zone then running back to the middle ... this was a flying leap beyond every boundary I believed existed.  It was facing multiple fears simultaneously and not simply surviving ... thriving.

The single biggest positive of this trip was this realization:

My comfort zone is that area I've created.  Its boundaries are limitations I have placed on myself.