I was at a conference recently where I said out loud, I’d really like to get a keynote on the main stage of this national conference. There! I said it. I think it came out of me almost unconsciously.
A friend/co-worker sitting next to me said, “Have you applied? Did you ask?
She had me. I was wishing but I wasn’t doing.
I heard myself start to make some excuses…”Well, I don’t think they….”
And then I stopped myself because I don’t know what “they” think or really who “they” are. I haven’t asked.
Why was I making excuses? I had to think about it.
I guess I didn’t want to be rejected if the answer was no. If the answer was yes, well I’d have to really prepare and face the fear of being in front of 5-thousand peers or so. I’ve spoken in front of lots of big groups, but this one would be different and I knew I was thinking about being judged for some reason. All of that swirling in my head was leading me to not take any action.
My dad used to say to me, “What are you waiting for? An invitation?”
Yes, I’d like an invitation. Right? I should be invited so I don’t have to risk anything.
And sometimes we are “invited” to apply for jobs and opportunities. Much easier on the ego. But if we wait around to be invited, we’re going to miss a lot of good stuff, just because, perhaps, we didn’t ask.
I wasn’t invited to go back to school, or write a book, or give a TEDX. I invited myself to those opportunities. You have examples of that in your own life. Think about it.
And you know what happens when you say NO to opportunities, to invite ourselves to something we really want to do? Nothing. Nothing new happens. How many times have I given that “talk” to others, on big stages, in front of lots of people?
And here I was, caught, ignoring my own advice.
“You gotta ask. You gotta dare yourself.” My friend said with a snarky smile. She had me there.
So, I mentally chewed on that conversation for 48 hours. I realized my fear is probably akin to the fear my college students feel when they see a job they want and feel qualified for but don’t apply because they aren’t sure about writing their resume or cover letter. I’m there to get them over that fear with an action plan BUT “I feel ya”, as they say.
It’s just not easy when your pride is on the line.
Or it’s kind of like in life or our career when we reach for something that’s “low hanging” that we know we can have, as opposed to stretching and reaching for something a little “higher”; something that feels more challenging. Because, well…who wants to fail or be rejected.
But, we all know from our own experience, that’s when some amazing things happen, when we take risks, when we dare and ignore the no voice giving us a million excuses.
So, today I asked and I’m actually a little excited I asked for an opportunity to keynote at this particular event.
And if the answer is no, it might just be no for now. Maybe I’ll find out something that will make it a maybe for later. The worst that can happen is my ask will be ignored. Eh…so what. Maybe I’ll find some other way to ask.
And I want to thank my friend who reminded me to “walk my talk”. We all need friends like that to keep us real and honest.
So, I bet there is something you want, but you haven’t even asked. What is it?
Or maybe you have a story to tell about just this kind of experience. Please share. But whatever you do, stop waiting for an invitation. I dare you and let me know what happens.