Have the Courage to Ask

Accountability Communication Courage


Key Point: If you want something to happen in your career, you need the courage to really know what you want, declare and ask for it. Put the intention out there. That doesn’t mean it’ll get you what you want by itself. But, often the request and declaration sets things in motion.

This is such a simple and perhaps naive message. Yet, I’m amazed how often in personal and work relationships we become frustrated that someone hasn’t read our minds to determine what we want. The idea that, “you should know what I want” in my opinion, is way overrated. I’m not talking about knowing that someone “takes cream in her coffee;” that’s relatively easy. I’m talking about the complexity of deeply understanding personal needs and aspirations. What I do know is that when you have a relationship with someone who is self-aware enough to clearly declare and ask, the conversation usually progresses more constructively. When both parties know and understand, forward action is possible. If not, the useless and debilitating strategy of “wish and hope” takes over. It’s the organizational equivalent of buying lottery tickets as a strategy for becoming rich.

In the workplace, people are often discouraged that they are overlooked or not asked to do more, get promoted and advance in other ways. They think the organization should somehow know what they want. And occasionally the system of recognizing and advancing people in organizations (e.g. succession planning) works well. However, my experience is that if you really want something and wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder, you’ll likely wind up disappointed. Far too often, people don’t move forward (and I don’t mean just vertically) because they get stuck in a pattern of “good.” People are pretty good at what they’re doing, so why would the organization mess with that? Well, as the saying goes: “Good is the enemy of GREAT.”

Character Moves:

  1. Clearly outline what you want to do to advance, and communicate how that will contribute toward the organization’s greater purpose. Getting ahead can’t be just about you. People will resist helping if they perceive that.
  1. Take concrete steps to demonstrate that you are preparing for that next move. Add to your skills. Network with people who can get to know and endorse you. Perhaps volunteer to help with a problem similar to the direction you want to go.
  1. Then for greatness sake, declare and ask for what you want! You’re worth it. Stop depending on mind readers. They are often distracted trying to figure out what they want. 

Declaring and asking in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: It’s true that “good is the enemy of great,” and another phrase you might hear is, “shooters shoot.” Of course it’s easier said than done, but how many times do you (me included) need to hear it before doing it yourself?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis