If that makes you uncomfortable, it could be because you’re believing the lie that there’s certain kinds of women who ask – the bold, assertive, ballsy kind.
I thought that too, until it started costing me what I wanted.
On my path to becoming an actuary, I joined a program with 100 other actuarial students from all over the country. As individuals, we were all immediately lost in the mix. Nobody, let alone the CEO, was going to just pick one of us out, let alone me.
If I wanted to lay a stake in the ground and stand out, I had to do something.
Trust me, that wasn’t natural for me to do. As a kid, I followed the rules, waited in line, drew inside the lines, worked for straight A’s and wanted nothing but gold stars. But I quickly found out that not only is adult land different, so are the rules.
I knew I wanted to be seen, so before a big auditorium event where our CEO would be speaking and taking questions, I prepared my tail off. I dug through old issues of Fortune magazine for great CEO interview questions. I practiced asking them with close friends. I waited by the door so I could introduce myself to our CEO one-on-one. Then, when the time came, I raised my hand and with immediate familiarity from our CEO, asked him two researched, thought-out questions.
I was still freaking out, don’t get me wrong, but I knew I wasn’t going to be seen or heard or recognized leaning against the wall hoping someone would just notice me there.
I had to be front-footed.
I had to go for it.
I had to ask.
And you know what happened?
Not only did I earn his respect for stepping up in that moment but I heightened my visibility across the whole organization – I got recognized by several department heads who reached out to my manager asking about me. I was able to leverage that action into building a strong relationship with the CEO (I’m still on his Christmas card list) and other leaders which fueled my growth in the company.
The best part?
I learned how to take control of my career and ask for what I want.
Asking was the first step in every major move I’ve made since then.
When I wanted to manage the new hire, I asked.
When I wanted to move into Finance. I asked.
When I wanted to build a team of analysts, I asked.
Now, almost 20 years later, I’ve become the person I want to be by taking the action to get what I want.
When I drive my clients to start asking, the most common push-back is that they aren’t as direct or bold as I am. I smile and tell them I didn’t start out that way. I had to act my way into getting the things I wanted.
The same goes for you.
Does this mean you’ll get everything you want if you just ask? Not at all. But one thing I know for sure. If you don’t ask, you’re choosing to sit by the sidelines. You’re choosing to wait for your boss, your organization or someone else to give you what you want. Fuck that. People just put limits on you, rarely do people just give you more power because they think you might use it. They give it to people who earn it. They give it to people who ask for it. They give it to people who signal through action that they deserve it.
You’ll start getting a pay raise, an assistant, a bigger project and anything else you want the minute you signal through action that you deserve it, that you want it, that you’ll work for it. Not with a demure “Hey would it be possible for me to do X, Y and Z?” but a confidently spelled-out “I’d like to run this project and here’s the top three reasons why I’d be great at it. What do you think?”
Get off your back foot and start asking. Don’t wait.
On the other side of asking is everything you’ve ever wanted, so fuck standard protocol.
You’re here to get everything you want in life, you just need to start asking for it.