The lunch keynote speaker, Christine Goldberg, Principal of the Price Waterhouse Coopers Advisory Practice, then said something similar. As women are trying to balance their lives, they may wonder:
“If I say ‘no’ to something, will I ever have the opportunity again?” Christine’s answer based on her experience: “Yes, you will have the opportunity again – but you will have to ask for it.”
She also emphasized that women have to be willing to step outside their comfort zone and be willing to take risks.
There is clearly a big difference in the comfort level that women have in asking for what they want.
I think that asking for what you want begins with knowing what you want. So that requires understanding our purpose or mission, our values, our roles and goals, our strengths, and what we enjoy doing. Sometimes we have lived our lives so much to please others, that we have forgotten who we truly are and what we really want.
Then, after we know what we want, it takes some courage to step outside our comfort zone and ask for it. It may feel like a risk, but the worst thing that can happen is that we get a “no” and then we are exactly in the same position we were in before. But we also have a chance to get a “yes!” which we won’t get if we stay put and don’t say anything. (If you are worried about being told “no”, read: Keep Asking Until You Find the Answers)
I have learned in my career that if you don’t say anything, others will make decisions for you. And we think that those decisions should be based on merit or our performance, but that’s not always the case.
Many years ago, I assumed that I would be considered for a particular role in our group, since I had the needed background and was performing well. But I didn’t realize that the people making the decision to fill the role had no idea about my previous performance (since they had only recently joined the group) and hadn’t even considered me as a candidate. Luckily someone advised me to speak up and actively let them know that I wanted this position and why I was a good fit. In the end, I was able to get this role, but it definitely wouldn’t have happened without me asking for it.
I realized that ultimately our career as well as our life is our responsibility. Nobody has our own best interests at heart like we do. And that means we have to actively manage our careers and lives, do the work to figure out what it is we want and then speak up and go after it!
What is it that you want in your career or your life? Are you willing to ask for it?