Let Them Tell You No

Take a chance. Photo by ReadySetSarah
Take a chance. Photo by ReadySetSarah

When it comes to career, life and taking chances, don’t take yourself out of the running. Give “them”- whoever “them” is- a chance to tell you no. You might be surprised how often you get a yes.

Among my close female friends and colleagues we all talk frequently about what we are passionate about, what innovative, creative and meaningful ideas we have for what we would like to do with our lives and our careers. But, rarely do we take steps towards those dreams. When a pathway opens that could get us one step closer we talk ourselves out of it, or fail to recognize the opportunity.

I have been in way too many conversations with friends where they (or I) have talked ourselves out of going for an opportunity, or trying something we think we’ll like (promotion, new position, long coveted hobby or skill etc.). We sit there listing off the reasons we probably aren’t qualified or ready for it, questioning our reasoning for why we actually might be qualified, or lamenting why we cannot change what we are already doing because we are comfortable or someone depends on us, etc. We can easily see the the fault in each others method/logic, yet we can all recall times we have fallen prey to this kind of thinking.

Why do we take ourselves out of the game before we’ve even had a chance to see if we can win? Why are we so afraid to try and fail? Why do we feel obligation to others, making decisions that aren’t in our best interest or what we really want?

I know not every woman falls into these behaviors, and those who do, may not do so all the time. I’m also sure there must be men who can relate too.

We need to practice articulating our skills and experience without qualifiers and passivity. We need to stop thinking we aren’t good enough, capable, or ready to do what we want or to try something new. We need to start consistently and strategically taking chances to get what we want and where we want to be. Failure is an opportunity to learn. Rejection leads to reflection. We have to take chances to get where we want to be.

Lessons from a Recent Grown-Up

A few gems from my first few years back in the workplace:

  1. People are more likely to question your leadership/authority/knowledge if you do. Fake it till you make it baby.
  2. When they say “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” they fail to mention that the job you want probably gets paid more (and those blazers are expensive).
  3. You can be a doer and a thinker (but be sure to get something done).
  4. It’s always easier to have a strategy discussion if you have a draft of recommendations to work from…
  5. It’s easier to do anything if you have something to work from, so the first step is to do something (brain storm, make a draft, a grid, something, nothing fancy).