Courage is my word for 2013. At first I thought it was kind of silly to choose a word of the year, but I’ve been surprised at how often that word has come to mind when I approach something I’m fearful about or hesitant towards. And it’s surprising how more intentionally courageous I’ve been so far. (Typing out “intentionally courageous” also sounds silly, like I’m about to go to battle or something — but for this introverted girl, it works.)
Let’s take work, for example.
I work in an building where all of the offices on my floor are in a circle with a conference room in the middle. When I started in August, I was given one of the inside offices without a window. It was a big, cozy office, and a novelty to have my own space at all, after having just a desk/cubicle in my last job. In the past few months a few of my coworkers left and the group was restructured a bit so our department won’t be hiring anyone anytime soon.
With a few vacant window offices available, and no more hiring in our near future, the thought to move to a window office came to mind. I love natural light. Florescent lights give me headaches and I prefer natural light over lamps any day. It would be nice to have an office where I could take a break and look at the landscape or the traffic patterns below.
But I was nervous asking for it. And it made me wonder, why is it so hard to ask for things sometimes? The vulnerability of being told no? Is that so hard to hear?
On a whim a couple of weeks ago I asked my immediate supervisor to move to one of the vacant window offices. Oh, yes, of course! Why didn’t we think of that sooner? We’ll have you moved in the next week. he said. I was shocked it was that easy.
I think as twenty-somethings, it’s easy to take directions but very hard to assert yourself in the workplace. Everyone seems so much smarter, more capable. But I’ve learned how valuable young thoughts can be to an organization. Good ideas don’t come with experience, sometimes it just comes with thinking. Of course it’s important to take directions and work hard, but I’m learning to speak up and bring new ideas to the table, even if it’s something as simple as moving offices.
This was just a small example, but a great lesson that you never know until you ask. The worst they can say is no, and that’s really not the end of the world.
Have you ever found yourself nervous about asking for something, at work or elsewhere? What was the outcome? Why do you think it’s hard for us to ask for things?