Do you ever think back and wonder why you didn’t speak up when you had the chance? Consider a time when you were in a meeting and didn’t raise your hand to offer your opinion or share an idea, only for moments later to hear a colleague announce a similar notion. How about refraining from asking a question for fear of looking stupid and someone eventually asks the inquiry and gains praise for their curiosity. In my experience, I end up kicking myself later for not biting the bullet and sharing my thoughts, no matter how silly I think it may be at the time.
We all receive things in life, both good and bad, some that you asked for and others you wish you hadn’t been #blessed with. Those extra projects or assignments, larger work load, a raise, promotion, leadership responsibilities, and the list goes on. We warmly welcome many of these new ventures into our lives, and others unexpectedly make their grand entrance without sincere reciprocation.
Of all the things you acquire, one fact is certain; you will not get 100% of the things you don’t ask for.
This means asking for what you want and not feeling bad about it, speaking up without hesitation, and confidently sharing your ideas.
I struggled for a while (and maybe still do to an extent) with not speaking up, putting myself out there, or asking for what I want in fear of looking weak, failing, or experiencing that uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability. My hunch is this is common across the board but especially for women in business. After being walked all over by my first boss, I learned quickly that to survive and thrive in the professional world, I would need to toughen my skin. That translated into communicating what was on my mind even if it wasn’t popular. With most of life’s lessons, ‘going for it’ has been an uphill journey.
One instance, when I was being cussed out by my boss, was the moment I recognized the need to take an alternate approach to opportunities that present themselves. I began researching a trip to Thailand, which is what I wanted to do when I graduated from college. However, without money and clear direction, a salaried position sounded like the right thing to accept when offered to me. After I did my due diligence in research, I decided to buy a one-way ticket to Thailand with the goal of uncovering my purpose on earth and self-reflecting on my first (miserable) year plus in the working world.
Since the moment I pressed “Confirm Purchase” for my plane ticket, I have drastically grown by taking opportunities to briefly be vulnerable instead of regretting not taking action. Training myself to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, as Brene Brown states, and allow for moments of awkward vulnerability, I’ve accomplished more successes than if I had just chosen to sit quietly.
Here are some of my favorite feats from putting myself out there and going for it:
Asked the Ochsner Health System CEO, of 20,000 employees, for two tickets to the most renowned New Orleans Mardi Gras Ball in which he is a Krewe Member.
Asked the CEO of the Neuroleadership Institute for a 30-minute informational interview around leadership and the field of neuroscience.
Built a relationship with representatives from a cutting edge, social recognition platform company and received free conference passes in Austin, TX for myself, my CHRO, and two AVPs. The conference may be the best of all time for our industry and we had the opportunity to see people like Simon Sinek and Amal Clooney speak.
Demonstrated my abilities and value to my team and organization to advocate for a promotion to Senior Consultant.
Asked to meet Anderson Cooper when I was at Elliott Masie’s Learning 2016 as a 30 Under 30. I almost didn’t go for it because I was positive they would say no!
Currently, I am working on getting someone to help me connect with Brett Eldredge, so we can go on a date. This is proving to be very tricky!
Not every story has a happy ending and I’ve had my share of failures just like everyone else. Most of the big-ticket items that forced me to put myself in the vulnerability spotlight actually worked out well. I can’t tell you how many people came up to me or emailed me after I asked our CEO for tickets to the Mardi Gras ball and said, “I wish I thought of that” or “I thought about asking but was too scared!” How many people in that room of 100 shared my same thoughts but didn’t go for it? If he hadn’t been so generous (and maybe slightly caught off guard by my request) and was unable to give me the tickets, I would have been satisfied knowing that at least I had asked.
Find what strategies empower you to take hold of the moments to ask for what you want and GO FOR IT!