It’s Not Bad to Want Something

I was recently talking with Allison. She’s one of the best at what she does. She’s positively contributed to the culture of her workplace for years and is in a season of parenthood where she would love to have Fridays off. It was a bit hard to ask for it – her manager listened, but said it wouldn’t work because it’s not fair to Allison’s peers. A bit bummed, Allison carried on. But later, her manager came back to her with some news. Due to some organizational changes, they needed to give extra hours to another employee. And since Allison had shared her desire to take Fridays off, they could make the exchange and let her have it! …The manager never would have known to offer if Allison hadn’t had the confidence…and asked.

I think many of us need more confidence.

I didn’t say ego or greed. I said confidence. And if you’re worried that you’re asking too much or pushing too hard, then you’re probably not at risk. You’re probably a likely candidate for needing more.

A year ago, I made a quiet resolution to myself. I’m going to accept compliments. I’m going to say what I’m good at. I’m going to say what I’m not good at. I’m going to state what I actually want. I’m going to say when I disagree. I’m going to say what I mean, and mean what I say.

When someone offers to buy, I’m not going to say “Oh, you don’t have to do that!” or “No, no, let me get it!” or “You shouldn’t have!”

I’m going to say, “Wow! Thank you!”

Because I think the better thing to do is accept a gift. Rejecting a gift is denying the giver the chance to give.

When you think about it, it’s actually the opposite of humility. It’s saying, “my insecurity is more important than your generosity”.

Doing this has been very eye-opening. I can be such a people-pleaser. But the ironic thing is that being confident is actually more helpful to others. If I tell them what I really want, it allows them to help me! If I say what I mean, it allows them to assess accurately, therefore also allowing them to help them!

And oh yeah, it’s more fun! You might be reading this and just thinking about the negative side. About truth-telling instead of just judging people and things secretly. But I’m actually primarily talking about the positive side. I’m talking about being confident in who you are, about knowing yourself, and about saying plainly without reservation/qualification/apology who you are and who you aren’t. I love hearing what other people are good at! Passionate about! Really into! Don’t you?

My conversation with my sister-in-law, Allison, continued to another topic. Allison has been a classroom teacher for years, and recently started a new role working with the kids in more of a 1-on-1 tutoring setting. She loves the work and knows she’s great at it, but it’s been tough to know that for herself lately, since her work is now ‘invisible’ to her peers.

Allison used to be more ‘in the mix’ with the other teachers, but now the feedback loop is missing. It’s hard to know what others need from her, and for others to know the value she’s providing. Allison also floats around the school to find and fill gaps, but even the nature of that work is a bit ‘invisible’ – she knows the whole picture, but everyone else just sees the small parts.

Ultimately, she realized she’s just in a different situation that requires a different solution, and she needed to be the one to take action. If she does great work, helps the kids learn and grow and wants to provide the value other teachers need from her…what’s missing?

Allison said to me, “I just need to have confidence.”

She realized she was starting to doubt herself and scatter her attention. She had lost her confidence because of the new setting she found herself in. And it was time to reclaim the truth, reprogram her mindset about it all, and communicate what actually IS. So we coached through this, and she came up with a plan.

On a regular cadence, she will ask a few of her peers what they need from her, what’s been most valuable in the past that she should keep doing and share some recent wins and results. Simple. Confident. And she even came up with a tagline for herself that will serve as a motto for the year and a reminder to stay in her new confident mindset!

So here’s the thing: Allison wanted to be more confident in who she already was. To stop all the worry and what-ifs, stop being in the dark and start just plainly saying what is. And the result was feeling more freed up through a better work arrangement; it even gave me renewed confidence as the listener!

I bet you enjoy when someone shares a desire, and you’re able to help them get it. I bet if you’ve ever heard someone say with genuine confidence, “I’m really good at ________” – I bet it makes you smile. So give others that benefit too! Get clear on what you really want. Have more confidence! The good kind! The real kind!

Tell someone in your life this week what you want or what you’re good at. And tell them what you think they’re good at too. Cheers 🙂

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