Aligning your work with personal purpose is an integral part of being fulfilled at work. In fact, it’s often advised to “do what you love; turn your passion into your work!” Despite its feel-good intent, it’s not great counsel. "Passion is not something you follow," says Cal Newport, author of “So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Search for Work You Love.” "Passion is something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world."
Most highly skilled people are that way because they worked hard at becoming their very best. Take Michael Jordan, believed to be the best basketball player of all time. Remarkably, he was uninterested in sports as an adolescent. Considered too short by his coaches, he didn’t make the 9th grade basketball team. As a sophomore, he made the junior varsity basketball team, but not varsity. Embarrassed, he channeled his perceived failure into motivation to practice more than anyone else. First at the gym and last to leave, he believed that he would get out of the game what he put into it. And, because he worked to be good at basketball, it became his passion. Once it became his passion, he overcame all obstacles.
While most of us will never be the Michael Jordan of our professions, we can learn from his dedication to hard work and practice. It’s rewarding to be great at something and since you spend 8+ hours a day at work, why not commit to being great at your job? It might just turn into your passion.
You can’t be great at something unless you know what “great” looks like. Your goals will change as you master your role so don’t spend time trying to figure out the end game; there is no end game. Pick one part of your job to master first, determine what being an expert looks like, set goals, then act, and then repeat.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
It’s hard to excel at something if you don’t go beyond your comfort zone; you will never achieve mastery if you don’t push yourself. Take on a challenging new project, ask your boss for in-depth, critical feedback on your performance, or learn a new skill. Rather than accept status quo, raise the bar for yourself.
Don’t Get Distracted
It’s easy to be distracted by tasks that minimize the discomfort of working hard at something you aren’t yet great at. In my first sales job, I had to develop a book of business from scratch and I did everything I could to avoid cold calling. I hated cold calling. I checked email, gossiped with coworkers, brainstormed with my boss…anything but put my head down to do the uncomfortable work. I quickly recognized I wouldn’t be successful if I didn’t pick up the phone, so I bought myself a 30-second sand timer. As soon as I hung up from one cold call, I flipped the timer over and I forced myself to make another call before the sand filled the bottom chamber. In six months, I was named Salesperson of the Year. The moral of the story: don’t be your own worst enemy; minimize distractions.
Give Your Best Effort
There’s no way around it, if you want to be great at something, you must work at it. Channel Michael Jordan: practice, practice, and more practice. Look at new tasks and challenges as strength and conditioning exercises; with every task complete and challenge overcome you’ve built your “getting really good at your job” muscles. Give your best effort and analyze your performance. Then practice more.
Never Stop Learning
Read job related books or publications, take a class, go to a conference, join a forum, ask for more training, try a new way of doing something, and find out how other people do your job. Be curious and never stop learning.
Ask for Feedback
Receiving feedback can be tough, but it’s critical to grow personally and professionally. Be coachable by checking your ego at the door. Ask your boss and coworkers for feedback on your performance. If you get criticism, don’t take it personally or give up; instead use it as fuel for improvement.
As Michael Jordan so wisely said, “I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, results will come.” I also believe that if you put in the work, your passion will come.
Thank you for reading. Please comment, like or share if you are so include to help me spread this message.
Having just wrapped up my first decade as a CEO and reflecting on what I want the next decade to look like, I was struck by how much I’ve grown and matured as a leader. The 2010s were filled with many ups and downs, achievements and setbacks, laughter and tears…just like any good decade should be! I took a few moments to jot down what I learned in my first decade as a CEO and this is what I came up with, along with some suggestions for you to consider.
Happy New Year and thanks for reading. I hope this was useful to you as you think about your own leadership journey over the next decade. And, as always, I appreciate comments, likes and shares.
Human nature drives us to avoid situations that feel scary; fear and anxiety overwhelm and we hunker down, looking for relief from uncomfortable feelings. Yet, to reach our full potential, we must overcome the instinctual urge to fight or flight and challenge ourselves to do new and bigger things. We must get outside our comfort zones.
What does getting outside your comfort zone mean?
Your comfort zone is defined as a place or situation where you feel safe or at ease and without stress. It’s a cozy place, but if you stay too long, you’ll miss out on valuable opportunities to grow. You have to take some risks, try new things, and push your boundaries. You must embrace discomfort and shove fear aside.
Why is getting outside of your comfort zone good?
Let’s say you want a promotion but you are worried about failing. You have two choices: 1) take on a high profile project that, if successful, could catapult your career but is risky because it’s outside your area of expertise and failure is a possibility; or 2) play it safe, put your head down, and do your daily tasks in hopes that someone will see your potential and give you a shot. The first option creates an opportunity; the second option leaves that opportunity in another’s hand. Being willing to get outside your comfort zone allows you to create a better life. You won’t get a promotion, leave a bad job, gain a new skill, develop a meaningful relationship, or build your confidence if you always avoid discomfort.
What holds people back from doing it more often?
Fear of failure causes us to doubt our ability to take on a challenge and succeed. We create stories of doom and gloom that make us want to retreat to the warm cocoon of predictability and ignorant bliss. It’s scary being out on a limb. But if you are honest with yourself, how many times did the doom and gloom turn out to be as horrible as you anticipated? How often did you rise to the challenge when you pushed yourself to do something new? When you failed, was it really that bad? Didn’t you learn something incredibly valuable? Don’t let a false narrative hold you back.
How do you get outside your comfort zone?
The only way to get out of your comfort zone is to, well, get out of your comfort zone. Yes, it’s obvious and yes, it’s the only way. Stop listening to the voice telling you dreadful stories of failure and humiliation. Ask yourself these questions: if I take this risk, what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that can happen? What’s most likely to happen? This process helps you see a ‘middle of the road’ outcome that is not total failure but also doesn’t leave you disappointed if you don’t achieve your highest expectations. Another way is to be vulnerable and share your fears with someone else. You’ll find courage by connecting with others and hearing how they overcame self-doubt. Other ideas? Change your morning routine, sign up for a class to learn a new skill, read inspiring books, hang out with people more successful than you, take on a new project at work, or give someone candid feedback. There are a million ways to push yourself; you just have to do it.
What happens if you are always outside of your comfort zone?
Many of us have been living perpetually outside of our comfort zones for some time now; I know I’ve been. The chaos of fast moving change, increased demands on time, and the pressure to deliver results and perform can be overwhelming. While it’s good to push yourself, doing so for too long can lead to burn out. “When demands become too great for us to handle, when the pressure overwhelms us, too much to do with too little time or support, we enter the zone of bad stress,” author Daniel Goleman writes in Psychology Today. “Just beyond the optimal zone at the top or the performance arc, there is a tipping point where the brain secretes too many stress hormones, and they start to interfere with our ability to work well, to learn, to innovate, to listen, and to plan effectively.” If you find yourself in this state, step back, ask for help, and take a few days off. It may seem impossible, but you’ll find that you will feel refreshed and able to take on more after some down time.
While staying in your comfort zone may feel predictable and consistent, in the long run you’ll lose out. Taking on challenges and being open to new experiences create opportunities that can take your success to the next level. Think about the last time you did something you were proud of? Were you pushing yourself or on autopilot? Don’t be afraid of getting to close to the edge of your perceived limitations. If you walk right up and look over, you’ll see all kinds of paths that lead you to a more enriched and engaged life.
Thanks for reading! As always, I am grateful for your shares, likes, and/or comments so please do so if you feel inclined!
Whether you are a leader, manager, or an employee who wants to be a high performer, there is almost nothing more important than creating more time to think. It may seem next to impossible in this fast paced, constantly-plugged-in world, but it must be a priority if personal and professional growth are important to you. Why? Because if you aren’t making time to think through problems, the future, and your role in what comes next, you will always be reacting. If you are constantly reacting, you aren’t giving yourself time to see the possibilities, think through potential consequences, calm down, and ultimately, make better decisions. I don’t know about you, but I like making good decisions, therefore I make time to think.
Respond vs reacting
First, let’s consider why responding is so much better than reacting. When you find yourself in a situation where you must react, fight or flight mode kicks in. Stress hormones wash through your body and you feel compelled to say or do something that you may later regret. Reacting is a natural urge, it happens automatically and it must be consciously resisted. Instead of reacting, choose to respond. You can do this by taking a breath (literally) and giving yourself time to reflect on what’s happening in the moment. This pause can be a few seconds, a few minutes, or a few days and it will allow you to observe what’s going on inside and out, making it easier to gain control of your emotions and decision making process.
Stop Wasting So Much Time
Facebook, Twitter, news feeds, television and other distractions should be reduced to a minimum if you want to create a more time to think. These things diverts precious time and creates background noise that clogs your thinking. Do you actually do anything with the steady stream of content that comes from these sources anyway? When was the last time you had a profound, personally life changing realization from a tweet or an Instagram post? Never? Me, neither. So shut it down and fill your new found time with things like reading thought-provoking writing, writing your personal vision, thinking about how to best achieve your goals, and brainstorming ways to improve your relationships. There are so many meaty things to think about…things that could change your life…if you would just stop and think about them.
"The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything." This quote by Warren Buffet pretty much sums it up. The busier you are, the less time you have to think. The less time you have to think, the harder it is to be really successful. Buffet continues, “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think.” It’s hard to argue with one of the most successful people on the planet. Simplifying will help you focus on what’s most important. Here’s an exercise: write down all the things you feel are priorities in these categories: work, family, personal wellness/fulfillment. List at least 20 items in each category. Then force yourself to pick the top three in each category. Don’t do anything else but these 9 things until you’ve mastered them. Now that’s simplifying! Focus is the key to success.
Another way of simplifying your life is to delegate. Are you really THE person who MUST do all the tasks on your list? Hire a someone to clean your house; have groceries delivered to your door; make your kids ride the bus to school; ask a coworker to help you with a task; approach your boss about getting administrative support on a big project. If you are a manager or a leader, make sure you hire people you can delegate to and empower them to take on challenging assignments. Give them projects that you might normally do yourself. When you find yourself performing tasks that are in the weeds, ask yourself, “should I be doing this or managing this?” If the answer is managing it, delegate it.
Being disorganized is a time suck. Plan your day so you don’t waste time looking for items that should be handy, doing things twice, and working on unimportant tasks. Be disciplined; make a daily agenda that lines out your day. This list shouldn’t be too long and should include a block of time used to think as well as the three things you must do to move the ball down the field on your most important priorities. I love this new Self Journal; I just started using it and it’s working well for me. I also you Evernote to track my to-do lists.
Take a Lunch Break
Resist the temptation to work while you scarf down a sandwich; lunchtime is the perfect time to ponder. Step away from your desk and breathe deeply. Jot down new ideas in a notebook; reflect on your day and come up with ways you could be doing things better; consider what you might be missing when tackling a big problem at home or work. Better yet, take a walk and let your mind wonder; be curious as to where your thoughts take you. Use this 30 minutes to get away from the grind and think.
Find Your Method
There are lots of different ways to do your best thinking. Mine happens when I am exercising. The trouble is that I forget everything as soon as I stop, therefore I use notetaking and audio recording apps so I can capture ideas as I work out. Pausing during a run to type out a few ideas isn’t ideal but it works for me. I also frequently read and listen to audiobooks and I use the same apps to record ideas sparked from consuming thought-provoking content. Writing is a great outlet whether it be expressing an idea to a colleague via email, journaling, outlining your thoughts on paper, or writing a draft memo to your boss. Other people do their best thinking in the shower, while walking the dog, during long flights, or when laying on the beach starting at the ocean…find yours and do it as often as possible. The outcome will be better decisions, more intentional responses, a clearer pathway to a fulfilling life.
As always, thanks for reading! Please like, share, and comment if you are so inclined. Click here to sign up to receive my blogs in your inbox.
Promotions are not given; they are earned.
There is nothing more important to remember than this statement when you are looking to grow within your organization. If you are being passed up for promotions, there is a reason why. Rather than blame your “playing favorites” boss or your “brown nosing” coworkers, take responsibility for what you can control which includes your attitude, performance, and teamwork. Then follow these steps to work your way into a new role.
Develop a Good Relationship with Your Boss
Your boss should be your biggest supporter and he or she can’t be this unless the two of you have a strong relationship. How do you build a strong relationship with your boss? Remember the universal truth…all managers want people on their teams who make their jobs easier. Do your best to make your boss look good; it usually pays dividends. Produce quality and timely work. Look for ways to help her achieve more. Ask for feedback and take action on it. Be forthcoming about ways she can successfully manage you. Build rapport by learning more about him. Put effort into understanding his personality traits and triggers. There are many ways to build a relationship with your manager; it may take some trial and error as you learn what works and what doesn’t, but it’s worth the effort….there is a good chance that he or she will be the one promoting you.
Be an Expert at Your Job
The fastest way to get a promotion is to be a rock star in your current role. Sure, there may be things you don’t like about the job you have now, but so what? Do all parts of your job well; become an expert at it by learning as much as you can, read books and other publications on the subject, ask for more training, acquire new skills and knowledge, and always produce high quality work. Remember, you will never get a promotion if you aren’t doing a great job in your current role.
Add Value and Help the Company Execute its Strategy
Make sure you are working on the right things…things that help the company meet its goals and execute its strategy. If you’re not sure how your job ties to the strategy, ask. Always prioritize your work and do what’s most important first. Don’t let yourself get distracted by things that don’t matter.
Be Seen as Helpful
Being a team player builds your credibility throughout the organization and will make you the go-to person when a tough problem needs to be solved. Put the team first, help out a struggling coworker, give credit to others, volunteer to help at company events...there are a million ways to exhibit helpfulness and be a true team player. Remember, though, that perception is reality; it doesn’t matter if you think you are a helpful teammate, what matters more is that others think you are.
Be a Problem Solver
People who expect “management” to fix all the problems in the workplace aren’t typically seen as helpful nor are they often promoted. It takes everyone within the organization to create an effective work environment so if you see a place where the organization can improve, develop some solutions to address the issue and discuss them with your boss. Volunteer to be part of a team tackling tough interdepartmental problems. Proactively address a communication issue with a coworker rather than triangulate through your boss; challenge yourself to achieve a positive outcome. Suggest a better process to ease frustration on a project. In short, be a problem solver, not a problem creator.
People with a positive attitude are generally easier to work with, hence more promotable. Keep your head up in the face of adversity, meet tough challenges head-on with a smile on your face, and view problems as opportunities to make things better. Be friendly, help others, smile more, and complain less. Commit to having a positive effect on everyone you interact with.
Look and Act Professionally - Always
If you want a promotion, look and act the part. Dress professionally, be well groomed, communicate clearly and articulately, use proper grammar, refrain from swearing, don’t gossip, don’t complain, ask questions, smile, and work hard (i.e. while at work stay off of Facebook, don’t text your friends, and refrain from chit chatting endlessly with coworkers). Choose a professional role model and emulate what he or she does.
If those doing the promoting don’t know about the good things you are doing, you won’t be on the radar for a promotion. Self-promotion is an art…it has to be done in a way that balances talking about yourself with humility. You don’t want to be perceived as bragging; that’s just obnoxious. First, make sure your boss knows your career aspirations and engage him or her in creating a career development plan with you (having a career plan is crucial to growing within your organization). Ping your boss regularly, giving updates on progress you’ve made. Keep your boss and peers informed on major projects and broadly share the team’s accomplishments. Bring attention to a big win by asking your boss if you can celebrate by taking the team to lunch. Approach your boss with a solution to a tough problem and ask him or her for support as you take the lead to fix it. Develop a relationship with a mentor higher within the organization who can sing your praises. Well executed self-promotion is subtle, tactful and highly useful.
These are my tips for getting a promotion. While doing these things don’t guarantee a promotion, you increases your chances by doing them well. On the flip side, here are some surefire ways to NOT get a promotion:
Hopefully this article sends you in the right direction…one that places you in the “indispensable” category and helps you achieve the next step in your career. There is almost nothing more rewarding than being recognized for a job well done with an opportunity to grow via a promotion. Remember…
“Do your best, and be a little better than you are.” - Gordon B Hinckley
Good luck and thanks for reading. As always, I appreciate likes, shares, retweets and comments. Please do so if you are so inclined. Click here to sign up to receive my blogs in your inbox.
References: Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield. Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
A few months ago, I wrote a blog about how we should all make 2017 the Year of Going Big. Why not? Sure, the turmoil and uncertainly in the world may be frightening but now is not the time to hunker down and make yourself as small as possible. Big change can (and needs) to happen.
So you’ve made a bold, courageous resolution and you are ready to pursue it with gusto. Now what? As famous French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” If you don’t know how to get to where you going, how do you ever get there?
I’d like to share a take away from the book “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.” It’s an exercise on how to put together a plan of action to reach a big goal. This exercise is similar to developing a marathon training plan. You know you need to be able to run 26.2 miles at the end of 20 weeks. You also know that you can’t start with 20 mile runs in week 1. Therefore you must develop a plan that works backwards week by week, lining out how you will log your training miles. This is the only way to keep yourself on track to the build motivation, strength and stamina required as you increase your mileage each week. Without this kind of plan, you may run too much too early and hurt yourself or you may not run enough and fail to cross the finish line. The plan is key.
You can use the marathon model to plan any goal you want to achieve. Let’s say that your goal is to get a promotion at the end of the year. You have 10 months to earn it; how do you get there? Start planning backwards. It looks something like this…
This is a simplified example, yes, but you get the idea. I recently did this exercise for a 16 year goal I’ve set for myself and it was incredibly eye-opening and helpful. I feel empowered and excited because I have an outline for success. There is no way I could achieve a goal that's 16 years out without a solid plan now.
You may find that you need to deviate from the plan you’ve created and that’s okay; course correcting along the way is necessary to achieve a goal. This exercise merely helps you think through all the things you need to do to get to where you want to be. Make adjustments as you execute your plan; use this as a tool to ensure you are working on the RIGHT things and taking the RIGHT actions to reach your “big thinking” goal.
Good luck and go for it!
Thank you for reading and as always, please comment, like and share if you are so inclined. I always appreciate the love. To sign up to receive my blogs in your inbox, click here.
One of most important attributes to becoming successful is self-discipline. It’s almost impossible to achieve excellence without it. Self-discipline helps you stay focused; it gives you the gumption to stick with something even when it’s difficult. It helps you choose winning the long game over short term gratification. Self-discipline allows you to overcome obstacles and deal with the discomfort of pushing yourself to new heights. With enough self-discipline, you can form life-long, positive habits; once you form a habit, it no longer requires discipline and you propel yourself towards success because it’s what you do day in and day out.
What is self-discipline? Essentially, it’s the ability to control your impulses, emotions, reactions, and behaviors. It’s the ability to forego short term gratification in favor of long term satisfaction and gain. It’s basically saying no when you really want to say yes.
How does self-discipline lead to forming habits? If you do something over and over again, it eventually becomes a habit and once something a habit, life gets easier; you no longer need willpower to force yourself to do it. For example, last year one of my goals was to do more yoga. I made a commitment to do it 30 minutes every day for 30 days. I felt so much better that I continued for another 30 days which turned in 6 months, etc. Now I get up an hour earlier to start my day off with 60 minutes of yoga. I don’t have to set my alarm anymore and I do it EVERY day. If you would like more insight on how to use discipline to form habits, read the Power of Habit. It’s a fantastic book.
The word self-discipline makes most people shudder just uttering it but being self-disciplined isn’t about leading a restrictive and boring life void of enjoyment, relaxation, and fun. In fact, it’s next to impossible to be self-disciplined in all areas of your life and I don’t recommend it. Instead, you should use self-discipline to focus your energies on what’s most important to you. Let it help you make the tradeoff between the short and long term so that you make better choices. In the long run, you’ll be happier when you have formed habits that make your life better.
So how do you become more self-disciplined? Here are my tricks:
You are the master of your destiny, the creator of your life. If you want your destiny to look, be and feel a certain way, then you have to develop the discipline to form habits. Vigorous habits will help you get to where you want to be. While it seems counter intuitive, I have found that I am happier and healthier the more self-disciplined I become. I think you will find the same thing, too.
Thanks for reading and as always, I welcome and encourage comments, likes and shares. Click here to sign up to receive my blogs in your inbox.
It’s hard to believe that another year is in the books; 2016 flew by and it will go down as one of the most intense years in history. I for one am glad it’s over, as I imagine many of you are, for a plethora of reasons that really need no explanation.
Now, 2017 is here and as with any New Year, we will be filled with the excitement of all the possibilities it brings. Perhaps we mistake this magical feeling for the deep sense of relief of having made it through the year; another trip around the sun and we are still here! Let’s raise our glasses and celebrate! We are sure that when the clock strikes midnight, our lives will change for the better. This year will be different, we just know it. We make resolutions to ensure that we will become the future versions of ourselves we so long to be. And then January passes and we realize that it’s just another day, week, and year. Sigh.
But it doesn’t have to be that way….
I think that in 2017 we all should throw caution to the wind. We should make a bold, courageous resolution and pursue it with gusto: we should commit to becoming really great at something that makes the world a better place or that brings great joy to our lives. Can you imagine how much better we would all feel if we pursued something that brought about real, positive change to our lives?
Sure, it may seem like a chasm to get from here to there, but it’s all in how you look at it. There is almost always a path; you just have to create the steps to get there. And you have to being willing to do the hard work. The first step is overcoming inertia; once you have momentum, it gets easier.
If you need some inspiration (or a good kick in the butt), I suggest these books to help overcome inertia and create a plan of action.
“The Compound Effect,” by Darren Hardy
“The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller
"The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure," by Grant Cardone
Remember, your dreams won’t happen to you unless you make them happen. Go for it.
Happy New Year,
Despite what the media sells us, there are more good things happening on this planet than bad things. There are beautiful people doing beautiful things with the goal of helping human kind advance into the brilliant, beautiful creatures we have the potential to be. Every day, each one of us has the choice to evolve or devolve. I choose evolve; I hope you do, too.
NOW is the time to change the world. So I am taking Gandhi’s words to heart, “be the change you want to see in the world.”
I believe the world needs leaders who can bring people together; thoughtful leaders who truly listen to what people have to say even if it’s not what they want to hear; leaders who are honest and transparent, who take action and ask for feedback; those who explain the why behind decisions and who are willing to change their minds. I am going to be this kind of leader.
I believe the world needs more businesses that give back to their employees; ones that believe in spreading the wealth by paying people decent wages and providing good benefits; businesses that allow employees to partake in the success of the company through employee ownership and profit sharing; ones that treat their employees with respect and dignity and who actively help their employees improve their own lives and those of their families. I am going to create this kind of business.
I believe the world needs managers who know how to hold people accountable while at the same time being compassionate to their employees’ individual emotions, experiences, and situations; managers who care about their people, wanting them to succeed; those who are willing to put the team first and who can admit when they make mistakes. I am going to be this kind of manager.
I believe the world needs smart people who are lifelong learners; those who challenge their belief systems and are dedicated to “never stop growing”; those who are committed to reading more books, becoming better writers, considering opinions that differ from their own, traveling outside their own little worlds, and letting go of fears that hold them back. I am going to be this kind of person.
I believe the world needs good parents; those who teach their children to be resilient, accountable, and kind; those who help their children learn the valuable lessons that failure teaches; those who model the value of hard work, honest communication, and perseverance; those who love unconditionally and discipline effectively. I am going to be this kind of parent.
The world needs more communities that are filled with people who are kind to each other, who give back and get involved, who support strong education, healthcare, and infrastructure systems, and who shop locally. I am going to be this kind of community member.
There are many ways to be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t just sit on the couch and complain about the way things are. Do something about it. I encourage you to take action with kindness, compassion, inclusiveness, and with an open-mind. Choose to evolve, not devolve. Choose to change yourself for the better and in turn you’ll change the world for the better.
As always, thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, like or share if you are so inclined. Please click here to receive my blogs in your inbox.
aA few weekends ago, I was relaxing in a comfortable chair at a friend’s barbecue when my three year old son, Jack, came over to ask for more Doritos. The bowl he had been eating from was empty and he was anxious for it to be refilled. I pointed him in the direction of the kitchen and told him to go ask the host’s husband if he had any more. Looking slightly intimated, Jack momentarily hesitated and then, with a spring in his step, ran over to ask the man for more chips. The women I was speaking with at the time looked over at me and said, “I don’t blame you for not wanting to get up…momma needs a break every now and then!”
I was startled at her statement, even though it made sense…I WAS very relaxed. “Oh, I don’t mind getting up,” I replied. “It’s just that I’m always looking for opportunities to encourage Jack to ask for what he wants rather than doing it for him. How many times in life have we forgone what we really want because we are too afraid to ask? I figure that teaching him to ask for small things (like Doritos) is a safe way for him to gain confidence to go after what he wants.”
She looked at me with surprise in her eyes and then said, “You’re absolutely right. I am guilty of not asking for what I want all the time!”
How many times in life have you forgone what you really wanted because you were too afraid to ask?
I’m here to encourage you to just go for it. Ask for what you want. So what if you get a “no” in response? If you don’t ask, you’ve already told yourself “no” anyway.
Look, I get that there are all kinds of convincing reasons why you shouldn’t ask for what you want. You don’t want to seem pushy, needy, or high maintenance. You don’t want to be rejected; you’ll be embarrassed if you’re told no. You don’t want to make your boss/spouse/coworker uncomfortable or even worse, mad. You feel like what you want is obvious and that you shouldn’t HAVE to ask. Or maybe you don’t think you deserve to get what you really desire. There are a million excuses to not ask for what you want but they are just that: EXCUSES. So stop making them and start asking.
Easier said than done, right? Here’s how to ask for what you want.
1. Get Clear on What You Want
The more clarity you can have about what you want and why you want it, the easier it is to ask. Why? Because if you believe in what you are asking for, you’ll be able to better articulate it and influence the person you are asking. If you aren’t clear, do more research, dig deeper, and understand your motivations. You may get nervous asking so write it down and refer back to it during the conversation.
2. Know Who to Ask
If you ask the wrong person (or people), you’re bound to get a no. Or get a yes that can’t be delivered upon. It’s hard to ask for something over and over (you may lose steam) so know who the decision makers are ahead of time. Also, it’s important to try to anticipate reasons why you might get a no. Think through the motivations, concerns, and roadblocks of the person you are asking and be prepared to speak to them.
3. Think about Your Body Language
Don’t slouch, mumble, cross your arms, or look at the ground. Show confidence by sitting up straight, breathing slowly, and making eye contact. SMILE!!! You are much more likely to get what you want by putting the askee at ease with calm and collected non-verbal cues. I highly recommend doing a Power Pose in private before initiating the conversation. I promise, it will help.
4. Be Direct and Specific about What You Want
Don’t beat around the bush, hem and haw, or expect people to read your mind. Define the problem, specify what you want, and outline what you think the person you are asking will have to do to fulfill your request. Then ask.
5. Always Be Gracious
Acknowledge with gratitude what the other person will have to do in order to give you a yes. Show appreciation. Be polite and cognizant of his or her time. Use positive language and refrain from giving ultimatums. Don’t beg and always say thank you with a smile.
So what do you do if you get a no?
Getting told “no” can be hard to take. You may feel a wide range of emotions and want to lash out, shut down, or give up. Don’t. Everyone gets told no. It may take some time to work through your disappointment and that’s okay. But don’t pout, get angry, or be passive aggressive. Seek to understand why and then regroup. Come up with Plan B or even Plan C. And remember, you get the opportunity to learn more about yourself when you have to overcome challenges. Take receiving a no as a chance to grow smarter, gain experience, and become more resilient. Be grateful for all the nos you get in life.
There is such a thing as asking for too much, too often.
Don’t be that person who is ALWAYS asking for favors or who consistently takes more than his or her fair share. While it’s good to ask for what you want, people will become wary (annoyed) when you do it too often or ask for too much. That’s why it’s important to be really clear on what you want and why. Think about the reasonableness of what you are asking for and don’t just ask for the sake of asking or winning.
Life is too short to not ask for what you want. It may sound macabre to put in a blog like this but the reality is that it all could be over at any minute. So why not put it out there and ask? You might just surprise yourself and get what you ask for!
Thanks for reading and as always, I welcome (and encourage) comments, likes and shares. If you want to receive my blog in your inbox, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to enter your email address.
A Quick Blurb on what this blog is about.
Welcome to my blog! My name is Kerry Siggins and plain speaking, honest leadership is my mantra. My intention is to help those who lead (or want to lead) become better at saying and doing what needs to be said and done in a way that it can be heard and seen, one person at a time.