Jump the line and go directly to your goals using one of the most overlooked (and avoided) success strategies out there: Asking.
So many of us move through our careers like we’re waiting in line. Step by step we make our way forward until it’s time to pass the threshold that marks a new level, stage, achievement or goal.
Like standing in line for that concert you’ve been waiting to see for YEARS, we shuffle along, with our ticket in hand, nervous the line isn’t moving fast enough to give us enough time to do the things we want to do once inside. But we have our ticket and the line is moving, so we stay where we are and wait our turn. And yes, moving forward in our careers is a step by step process that requires patience and grit and incremental progress. And you may have the chance to short cut that system when it really matters – but only if you’re courageous enough to do it.
Simple: you Ask.
I’m not talking about the kind of asking that is reserved for those super negotiate-y moments like performance and comp reviews or new job salary negotiations or investment pitches. I’m talking about using Asking as a cold hard tool when you want to get to something or somewhere, faster.
Let’s take the waiting in line analogy again. How do you get into the show faster? You go around back.
You knock on the stage door. Someone opens it and says, “sorry, crew only.”
Do you hang your head and get back in line? Nope. You knock on the OTHER stage door.
Only this time, the person who opens it HAPPENS to be wearing the same concert tee from a show you saw years ago and Boom! You have something in common! You chat a bit and quickly get to the goods – you ask, unsolicited, if you can make it into the venue…from the stage door. Next thing you know, you’re making it down a dark hallway, past the stage and right to where you want to be. You jumped the line; in fact, you avoided it altogether. Why? Because you Asked. And you didn’t let the first NO deter you from the next YES. Asking is a tool to help you get where you want to go in your career. Financial or otherwise.
In our careers, we can jump the line. But here’s what it takes:
Unrelenting courage. From the smallest Ask to the Asks that can change everything, you’ll need courage. Because asking can feel like breaking rules, it can feel like stepping outside of what’s acceptable, it’ll feel like jumping the line and getting caught talking out of turn. It can feel like risk. It can feel like “how dare you!” That’s ok. You can get the courage you need by tying your ask to a bigger goal, a bigger Why. Once you’ve done that, fall in love with it, champion it, stand up for it. Know your goal, and the courage you need to make big asks comes a little easier.
Willingness to step into your Zone Of Freaking Out (the ZOFO). The kinds of Asks that pay dividends are the kinds that make you say “Omg, I’m freaking out! I can’t believe I’m gonna do this”, but you do it anyway. When you’re freaking out, you know you’re making an Ask that is full of potential. Like sneaking around back at a concert venue with your bestie and knocking on the back door with giggly delight…yeah, it should feel like that.
Know what you’ll do if you get a NO. Your plan will go from good to bulletproof when you have the answer to “what’ll I do if I get a no?”. It’s the most important and courage-making thing you can do. It’ll help you see beyond the horizon of the Ask you’re about to make to see that life will go on if you get a NO. You’ll be ready for it. And it won’t break you. Why? Because when you can see beyond the no, you see all the other possibilities and THAT is courage-making. It lets you continue to make the Asks that are full of potential, the ones that freak you out in all the right ways.
Looking back on my career, I jumped the line with one huge Ask that was not monetary, but let me start living the career I wanted WAY earlier than I would have if I had been a good girl and stood in line with my ticket in hand.
After a few months of getting really honest with myself about what I wanted, I got on the phone with the person who could unlock it all. With no formal credentials, robust resume or portfolio, just clarity of vision and a willingness to get a NO, I knocked on that metaphoric door, fully in my Zone Of Freaking Out, and Asked “Will you teach me?”
After a pause, he said yes. Next thing I knew, I was on a plane to New York. I jumped the line.