OppI’m SO excited to be on my way to London, to the 2015 office* exhibition at Olympia. Last year I attended as winner of the North VA of the year, and this year I’m honoured to have been asked to speak on the panel at the BeMyVA Breakfast tomorrow morning. I’m also delighted to be able to support Pam Allen, this year’s North West VA of the year and Finalist for England VA of the Year, and Sue Chadwick and Gwen Backhouse who are shortlisted for Newcomer VA of the Year.

Determined to make the most of the opportunity, I’ve invited my daughter along; we’re travelling First Class, I’ve booked us in to a lovely hotel in Kensington and we’re planning to catch up with other North West attendees over dinner tonight. It’s a real privilege to have the chance to be part of the conference and I’m keen to embrace all that the trip has to offer: exposing myself to new experiences, stretching my comfort zone and welcoming new places, new faces and new ideas.

Reflecting on how this trip came about, I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity last year to put myself forward for the North VA award, and so proud of myself for TAKING that opportunity. Winning it gave me the opportunity to connect more with John at BeMyVA, and gave me the inspiration – and confidence – to host this year’s North West conference myself. These steps led to me being invited on the panel, and to today’s journey and all the promise and excitement it holds. And it massively reinforces my belief that when opportunity comes knocking at your door you should reach out and grab it with both hands!

Okay, so I appreciate that it’s easy to see in retrospect how one thing led to another, and I know that, most of the time, when an opportunity presents itself, you will have little (if any) idea of what might be in store; you may feel unsure, nervous, unprepared, too busy or just too uncomfortable to say yes and go for it. But uncertainty is NOT a reason not to do something that holds promise for growth. And sometimes it’s the things we’re most nervous about that hold the most potential for our development, professionally and personally.  Just because it’s unchartered territory doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there!

I’ve written previously about how discomfort and inhibition can make us reluctant to put ourselves forward for awards, but Pam Allen is a great example of why it’s worth taking the plunge. If she hadn’t taken the opportunity to put herself forward for the North West VA award, she wouldn’t have won it, and she wouldn’t be attending tomorrow’s conference as a finalist for the England VA of the year award with the possibility of attending the main VA conference in Windsor as a UK finalist.

It can seem like a daunting prospect, and many VAs are put off by what seems to be a complicated and laborious application process, but I’m determined to facilitate change here, by encouraging more VAs to step up and take the opportunity to submit applications for industry awards. Last year I ran a free workshop to guide and help VAs through the application process – which really is a lot easier than you might think – and I’ll be hosting another one soon.  It’s a cliché, but you’ve gotta be in it to win it, and believe, me, it’s worth the effort: the ripple-effects of succeeding continue to spread long after the award ceremony closes.










So the next time you’re wavering, sitting on the fence, doubting yourself, and reluctant to step out of your comfort zone, remember that it’s by embracing the wonderful opportunities that life gives us that we grow. And opportunities for growth needn’t be extraordinary or big; they’re there in the small, commonplace, everyday stuff of life too – just keep an open mind, be ready to spot them, seize them and, above all else, believe in yourself!

I’ll be back in a few days to let you know how we all got on !