Self-Assessment Quiz – True or False:
- I know what I need to succeed at my job, from salary to support to scheduling.
- I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses.
- I don’t let other people make decisions for me without my input.
- I am confident with speaking up, interacting with higher executives, and tooting my own horn.
There is a handwritten sign on my front door that everyone walking out of the house sees as they open the door to face the world: “IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T GET.” But before you can do that, you need to know what you want and get ready to receive it. That’s why I sure am hoping you answered TRUE to the questions in the self-assessment quiz above.
Think about it. When you go to McDonald’s, what happens? You ask for what you want. You don’t stand at the counter and hope the pimply teenager at the register will decide for you. You can’t stand there wishing for extra tarter sauce on your Fish Filet sandwich, not ask for it, and then be disappointed that you didn’t get extra tarter sauce! You have to open your mouth, people, and ASK (or point and gesture if you’re in a foreign country)!
Let’s look deeper into this analogy:
- You identified that you wanted a McDonald’s Fish Filet.
- You did the work:
- Earned the money to pay for the fish sandwich
- Found a way to get to McDonald’s
- You ordered once you were in place and ready.
- You walked away with the fish sandwich.
- You ate and hopefully enjoyed the fish sandwich.
Now, if you hadn’t identified and asked for the sandwich, and taken all of the little steps in between to bring it to you (or you to it) before it rested comfortably in your small intestine, would you ever have eaten your beloved Fish Filet? NO! My mama used to say, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.” And that’s befitting this McDonald’s analogy, for sure. But the same goes for what you want in your job, your career, and your life!
If you want to move up in your job, you gotta decide how to do that. Let’s say you decide you want to be a senior manager. Now, you can’t sit in strategy meetings, or better yet, your annual review, and just expect people to read your mind and magically hand you a new business card with “Senior Manager” printed neatly under your name in Helvetica font! You can’t even do great work and be content that your boss knows this means you want to be a senior manager. Bosses aren’t all intuitive like that. You must be vocal, you must be direct, you must be specific, and most importantly, you must be ready and positioned (i.e. deserving) to get that which you ask for.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the movie La La Land. I dragged six different people with me on six different occasions to see it while it was in the theater. I’ve seen it another three or four times since then. The reason I love the film so much is because it’s all about being ready to be found.
You scoff at my example, but let’s say you got the first step right with ordering your Fish Filet sandwich, but you faltered at Step 2. Even though you had the money, you ended up at Pizza Hut because your GPS was wonky. This throws off everything after that. You get to Step 3 and you place your order, but they’re just going to laugh at you at the Pizza Hut counter and maybe call the po-po because you are clearly deranged. Even Jesus didn’t try to change pizza into a fish filet sandwich. You can still ask for what you want. But c’mon, you didn’t even bother to do the basic groundwork. You got the location wrong. You weren’t READY.
Far too often, when it comes to up-leveling our careers, people want to skip doing the basic work. So be sure that when you ask for what you want, you are indeed READY to be found. You’ve been on the job longer than three weeks. (No seriously, I had a new employee ask about her promotion before she’d even worked for me for three weeks. Come ON!) You have the experience they’re looking for. You have a stellar performance record. You do more than that which is asked of you. You attend conferences or workshops to network. You’ve found a mentor. You’ve asked to join in meetings or conference calls that aren’t necessarily in your wheelhouse or department but give you exposure.
Get out there! DO and BE so that in three months or six months from now you can confidently ask your boss, “Ms. Smith, I want to be the Senior Manager of our department. Would you consider me for this role? I think I’ve proven that I’m more than ready.”