I recently received some advice that didn’t really click with me until a few moments ago. I’m like a sponge; as an early career person I feel as if it’s my duty to be exposed to everything and try to soak it all up. But, what happens when you feel as if your current opportunities aren’t giving you as much room to grow as you would like? Now to clarify there’s always room to grow, especially this early, but not every opportunity goes in the direction that’s right for you.
Now, what’s the advice you ask?
Don’t be apologetic about what you want.
I’ve always been very nice. I grew up in a culture where being respectful is everything, but I’ve always been mindful of the things that I want in life also. The general rule of thumb was to step on as few toes (if any) as possible to get to where I want.
I’m not in one of those situations currently. I’m in a position to stomp on more than a few toes if I really go after what I want and I’ve been quite wishy washy about making the decision. Even though this decision will most likely be a positive career change, it’ll probably burn some bridges. While it may seem like the best thing to do is to minimize the amount of damage I’m about the cause, it seems like this may unconsciously sabotage any respect people have for me because it seems like I just can’t make up my mind.
There’s an interesting article about 10 ways women are unconsciously sabotaging their careers. Number 2 rings true here.
It’s important for both men and women to be well liked at work-but you can’t build a career solely around being liked. The trick is to find a balance between being a wishy-washy “nice girl” and a woman who’s too headstrong.
Sheryl Sandberg talked about this in her book Lean In. She states that if you please everyone, you’re not making enough progress. Every time I change my mind about my situation, I’m taking two steps forward and one step back. It’s progress, but at this rate, I’ll never get to where I’m going. So now I’m going to live by these words…I’m not going to be apologetic about what I want. It might put me in a position that takes me out of my comfort zone, but there will never be a big reward without a bit of risk and improvisation involved. It’s just the way the industry works.