Last month we kicked off the 12 month Global Veterinary Careers Summit (GVCS) and it is a career-changing, or a career-forming or even a profession-changing event – or all three at once. After all – I have the liberty of telling this story 😉 !
What struck me about the GVCS was the generous gifts of personal stories our vet and tech attendees shared about their careers, their experiences, their expectations, their wins and their learnings. It made me ponder the power of the story – that a story has the power to influence the listener, in fact it can directly influence the listeners career trajectory – I know from personal experience.
That our colleagues are so willing to share and reflect upon and not tell their career story as a list of their amazing achievements (of which -I must say – there are is an amazing array in there!) is refreshing. That each told their story framed with an honest and modest account of the twists and turns in their professional journey, and on occasion the mistakes, spills and falls that their career paths have included was (and is) profession changing. But such honest stories are not given away lightly – as Brene’ Brown says “We share with people who’ve earned the right to hear our story…”
I did my research and read that a story influences through the emotions it elicits in the listener, and then the emotion has the power to impact on that persons inner-dialogue and spark encouragement or hope that their story might follow or avoid what the story describes. That our attendees came with open minds and heart and the courage to share has created an atmosphere and creative forward-thinking environment that I have not experienced before in a group of high-achieving scientist personalities. The atmosphere of creativity, connection and encouragement, helped me learn – that many people also experience imposter syndrome when they stretch themselves and step up to the next level or goal. I learned how this ‘imposter’, the negative voice telling me to shrink back and not take action, shows up for others too – and I learned the ways that they manage it and not let it hold them back. This is the good stuff – the ‘summit gold’ where careers and lives are forever changed.
We learned from each other, and I suggest all collectively sighed a breath of relief, that in our profession where we each strive to be the best at what we do and often come up against competitive, and sometimes negative or nasty colleagues (likely enmeshed in their own dark struggles) that we hold the capacity to create a space for being ‘human’, ‘authentic’, ‘fallible’, ‘damageable’ as well as the obvious Freaking Excellent in our roles! And to hopefully realise that despite our feelings, and harsh self-perceptions that we are one of an exceptionally talented group of human beings.
We have been able let down our masks for a bit and breathe and support our colleagues and admit human-ness and dare I say heal some of the damage and hurt that the stories we were told previously, or indeed that our ‘imposter’ voice on occasion hammers us with. In the Global Veterinary Career Summit, we got outside of ourselves and helped others to create a place where the collective experience was ‘kindness, wisdom, creativity, helping and ‘shared learnings’ – not a bad result from a group of animal-healing/ animal-loving vets and techs 😊!
Another lesson I learned from listening to the stories being told is that everything is learnable or if I quote the lovely Ebony Escalona ‘everything is figure-out-able’. That the people achieving and creating opportunity for themselves and their careers are the ones who stay open to learning and are brave on occasion to stretch themselves and risk being the new kid on the block. For me some of the most interesting stories came from those who learned to show up again and to take the good bits with the hard bits and the total failures (or life-learnings as I like to call them 😉) and while the entrepreneurial story-teller might rest for a period, that they then take a deep breath and try again and not let the story being told in their head stop them from trying.
The thing about stories is that we all have them. Through being coached and coaching others – I can attest that in fact – life is nothing more than stories.
The beauty of the story is that we can tell it as we want to, we can highlight the good bits or we can focus on and highlight the bad bits, we can tell a story of the learnings or frame it as the struggles, the highs or the lows, the parts that nearly took us out and that now with distance and space that we see as the diamond in the ashes – the turning point that re-shaped and defined us – that parts that made us. We can tell the stories of our past – of the now and how we perceive what is going on around us and most powerfully we can re-draft and design the story of our future.
~ Love Your Veterinary Career ~
Veterinary Career and Business Coach