Working, as I do, in the business training world the executive assistants I come across in our trainings are clearly on a quest for self- improvement, else they would not be on one of our courses. However, whilst there are those who strive for continuous improvement there are many Executive Assistants out there who feel that their career / development has plateaued, and they feel that there is nothing more to be gained.
Which category do you fall into?
As you navigate the demands of your role, it's essential to understand that personal growth is not a linear journey but rather a series of spurts and plateaus. This article aims to shed light on the concept that while reaching peak performance is possible, it's just one step in an ongoing cycle of growth. Let's explore why personal growth comes in spurts, the inevitability of plateaus, and how executive assistants can ensure a constant evolution in their skill set.
The Spurts of Growth
Imagine personal growth as a series of leaps forward, akin to climbing a staircase. In the initial stages, there's a noticeable surge in skill acquisition and knowledge. As an executive assistant, you learn the basics, master fundamental tasks, and develop a solid foundation. This phase is characterized by enthusiasm, rapid progress, and a sense of accomplishment.
During these spurts of growth, it's crucial to capitalize on your newfound skills. Dive deep into learning opportunities, seek out challenges that push your boundaries, and be open to experimentation. Embrace this phase as a chance to build a strong base that will support your journey towards peak performance.
Reaching Peak Performance: The Plateau Dilemma
After the initial growth spurt, you might find yourself hitting a plateau. This is a natural phase in the process of personal development. It's not uncommon for executive assistants to reach a point where their growth appears to stall, and tasks that were once challenging become second nature. This plateau, while seemingly frustrating, is a sign of progress.
Peak performance is attainable, but it's essential to understand that it's not a permanent state. The skills you've acquired enable you to excel in your role, but they might not sustain continuous improvement. Once you reach this stage, you might notice diminishing returns on your efforts to refine those same skills. This is where many professionals question whether they've hit their limit – but the journey doesn't end here.
The Rinse and Repeat Strategy
To continue evolving as an executive assistant, embracing the rinse and repeat strategy is paramount. Just as you've done before, break out of the plateau phase by seeking out new challenges and learning opportunities. The cycle of growth involves recognizing that, while you've reached a level of peak performance in some areas, there are always fresh skills to conquer.
Identify the gaps in your skill set that can complement your existing strengths. Do you excel in communication but lack expertise in a specific software? Are your organizational skills top-notch, but you could benefit from improving your time management? By identifying these opportunities, you set the stage for the next spurt of growth.
Embracing Lifelong Learning
The journey of an executive assistant is one of continuous learning. Embrace a mindset of lifelong learning to ensure that you're consistently expanding your skill set. Attend workshops, take online courses, seek mentorship, and stay updated with industry trends. By adopting this approach, you not only prevent stagnation but also position yourself as an adaptable and invaluable asset to your organization.
Demand Development Opportunities from Your Executive to Fuel Your Growth
As an executive assistant, it's vital to recognize that the pursuit of personal growth is a lifelong commitment, not a one-time endeavor. The concept of attaining peak performance is both within your reach and fleeting in nature. Embrace the inherent cycle of spurts and plateaus as a natural pathway to excellence. By proactively seeking fresh skills, consistently challenging yourself, and maintaining a receptive attitude toward growth, you ensure that your evolution aligns seamlessly with the ever-evolving demands of your role.
Crucially, remember that the question isn't whether you'll achieve peak performance, but rather, are you prepared to persistently ascend the staircase of personal and professional development? Advocate for yourself by actively seeking development opportunities from your executive. As you set new challenges in motion, you not only fortify your capabilities but also foster an environment where your growth becomes an indispensable asset to your executive team and organization as a whole.
About the Author
Richard Arnott is Director of BMTG (UK) Ltd, the author of the Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA® and sits on the editorial board of Executive Support Magazine.