Community board member, Heather Gillbanks wrote this week about Get off Your Ask - thanks to Michelle Peavy.
I started to read around the community and we've probably hashed this topic a few times. Here are some recent posts.
Reading these reminded me of a post I wrote several years back on my blog so I thought I'd post it here. I've actually made some modifications given my newfound insights on the art of asking.
Women don’t ask. It’s just not in our nature.
So why is it that when it doesn’t happen, that when we don’t ask … our worlds fall apart?
- We don’t ask because we are afraid of the answer we’ve already created in our heads.
- We don’t ask because we focus on getting things done, caring for others (and what they think) and not putting number 1 first.
There. I said it. Does it make any sense? We need to get beyond this. I know I have.
Several years back I was working for Shell. My career took me through an amazing growth journey in my life. I flew all over the world, connected with people, led amazing projects, and learned the most I’ve ever experienced in my adult life. I was valued, found purpose and 95% of the time, I loved getting up and going in to do my best.
And I had the best friends, supporters, and mentors a girl could ask for.
The fast track got even faster. I was promoted, got married and within 6 months became pregnant on the heels of taking a crazy yet exciting job that had me on the road. For a woman who travelled plenty before, this wasn’t new but as a new mother, I was on high-octane. My first day back from maternity leave was on a 777 to a team meeting. My former executive Margaret Montana told me I should have insisted they hold it over video.
I proudly told her .... “Nah…I am superwoman and I can do this.”
Secretly though I was tired. New kid, no sleep, raging hormones, and 35 extra pounds on my back. It was hell. I tried to smile. I tried to like it.
Bigger picture view, though…I really didn’t have it all that bad. I just didn’t know how to manage all the change. I didn't know I could ASK for a different job. My boss was a good guy but in Malaysia, 13 hours away. His boss was 7 hours away. Both were distant and didn’t see all of the pressure mounting. They didn’t know what I was going through, and why would they?
I was Super Woman so why break the news to them I wasn’t?
Why tell them their super star performer working crazy hours trying to be a wife, mother, be fit, clean up poop and all the rest of the stuff that came with this new amazing chapter in life?(Hey, are you tired yet just reading?)
I didn’t ASK for what I needed. I thought I asked but I wasn’t clear. After all what new mom raging with hormones who is away from home 50% of the time worried she’s on the path to a divorce is rational? What mom who wasn’t supposed to have kids is coping well with life after a hard pregnancy?
Forget the bosses. I had a real living breathing group of advocates across the world who knew me, my capacity and achievements. They knew the leader who had energy but just needed some space to figure it out.
Guess what? I didn’t ask them either. I lived alone in my thoughts. And one day, about two years into the role, I leaped. I left for sound reasons: better benefits (hello, on site daycare) and an amazing opportunity to work with an executive team on a turnaround project.
But it did make me wonder why …
I didn’t ask well enough for what I wanted. And “what if I had?”
The good news is … I ask now. I have to ask. If I don't ask, I don't get things done. And when I don't get things done, the rest of the dominoes fall to the ground.
Okay, so repeat after me. Stand up and take the oath.
“On my honor. I will stop worrying. I will stop creating stuff in my head. I will ask for what I need and for what I want. And when I see a woman struggling, I will remind her she needs to ask.”
You got this. Life is too short. Just Get off Your Ask