It's impossible to ignore the avalanche of articles out there that describe the qualities a successful event professional must have. As a planner, you must skillfully manage stress and push the boundaries of creativity. You also must learn how to improvise and deliver flawless experiences. Apart from that, your responsibility is to know... well, basically everything, from social media marketing and SEO to attendee psychology.
In other words, if you want to be a successful planner and succeed in this industry, you must become Superman or Wonder Woman. In these conditions, the amount of weight that we put on our shoulders is insurmountable.
We follow blindly the toxic beliefs industry 'gurus' are spreading, thinking that being a superhuman is still, somehow, not enough. We work ourselves to exhaustion trying to reach for perfection and that desirable title of a 'successful' event planner.
Well, let me disappoint you... there's no such thing as a flawless professional. Being part of this industry equals feeling comfortable with the mess we often create around ourselves. Trying to conform to the false norms you're reading in famous blogs for event professionals may be dangerous, especially to your health.
Apart from the work stress you are experiencing on a daily basis, you also expose yourself to higher degrees of anxiety, forcing yourself into believing that you must be the best at all times. To help you alleviate this pressure, here are a few harmful myths we tend to believe about event professionals:
Myth 1. Event professionals don't make mistakes
If you want to become a successful planner, you must avoid mistakes at all costs - or, at least, this is what we learn from 'inspirational' articles on how to become an outstanding event professional. You must be always focused and know how to deal with uncertainties at all times, coming forward as a winner.
How silly is that? These mistakes (that we all make... yes, even Superman and Wonder Woman make mistakes!) define our professional trajectory and strengthen our expertise. Only by allowing ourselves to make mistakes (and recognize them!) are we able to gain greater insights about the particularities of this industry.
And this is not true for beginners only - making mistakes equals stretching beyond our comfort zone and putting ourselves in the position of constant learners. What can be more professional than that?
Myth 2. Planners know how to transform struggles into opportunities
You are the alchemist. It's your duty to have an answer to everything and to breeze through any logistics or event marketing challenges you may encounter. Overused, the 'transform struggles into opportunities' became an annoying cliché. As event professionals (read 'as humans'), we have the right to fail and accept that it happens. We did our best, we've learned from our mistakes, and we'll do better next time.
Myth 3. Organizers know how to manage stress
It should be a piece of cake, shouldn't it? Who cares that you are overworked, have no time for yourself or your family, and can’t remember the last time you had a good night's sleep? You are in charge of your life, so you must find a way to 'efficiently' managing the stress.
Look, put aside the 'how to be a superhero' articles. It's okay to be a mess sometimes and to learn how to take better care of yourself. But this comes with time, when you start to understand how to better organize your priorities and tasks to avoid burnout.
You don't have to know how to manage stress. Only a few lucky ones have mastered this skill. The rest of us are still learning on a daily basis how to take better care of ourselves. It's a work in progress for almost everyone.
Myth 4. Event planners can predict the outcomes of their actions
No, they can't. Nobody can. Have you ever heard about the 'planning fallacy' concept? We are awful at predicting things, unless you have a Magic 8-Ball.
You: Magic 8-Ball, will the speaker come in time for the session?
Magic 8-Ball: No. (Or Ask Again Later.)
How absurd is that? Obviously, you can apply some strategies or experiment with new marketing techniques, for example, to ensure a certain degree of success, but you can’t be 100% sure about the outcomes of your actions.
Myth 5. Planners must be extroverted and outgoing
What's so bad about being an introverted event professional? Introverts are perfectly capable of interacting with other people. As a matter of fact, as Susan Cain argues in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, "There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas." So it may not come as a surprise if the best event professionals are actually introverts.
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Stop reading those articles about the 'top 10 characteristics' a successful event professionals must have. All those articles are portraying the picture of a nonexistent character we want to emulate: the perfect planner. There's no such thing.
Do you know what actually makes an event professional truly great? The person’s resiliency quota, desire to put in the hard work, willingness to accept the mistakes he or she makes, and interest in constant learning. Being a real professional means recognizing that you’ll never achieve mastery and perfection... and you're okay with that.