I talk with hundreds of executives every year, and one thing I find that so many of the ones who are unhappy with their situations do is say “no” to opportunities. They say no to the very idea of exploring opportunities.
What got me thinking about this?
I was playing golf yesterday with a friend who, now retired, worked as head of sales for a pharmaceuticals sales and distribution company. He shared between shots how he was elevated the equivalent of fours levels because he was a fantastic salesman. He didn’t feel ready or at all in his comfort zone which such a jump, but “Why on earth would I say no to such a dream opportunity?” he asked me.
Why indeed. If they are going to have faith in you, why wouldn’t you have faith in yourself?
Just say “no” to the idea of saying no to exploring options.
We talked about how people place limits on what they can achieve by always finding reasons to say no to opportunities and to even putting themselves in position to be offered opportunities.
They focus on the obstacles.
You can always find valid reasons not to do something. In the case of careers, people feel constrained by having a commute under an hour, so everything they pursue needs to be in that circle. But why not move if the job is what you want, what will help you achieve your career desires? One can come up with reasons not to move, but if you listen to those reasons your career goals become difficult or even impossible to achieve.
Some are overly focused on having a shiny title. Silly. One company’s Director is another’s SVP. Forget titles.
Others fear moving from a brand name big company to a smaller company because of “how it would look.” Only your mother is watching you that closely, and she probably just wants you to be happy. Sometimes what you need to be happy, or to gain the experience needed for your next step, is at a smaller company. Go there and crush it.
You find it appealing to be your own boss and grow something from the beginning? Then you should go into franchising. We hear so many success stories in this area! It’s a great way to be in control and show what you’ve got. How will it look to be the main person in a small operation? It’ll look amazing! You’d be running it and building something wonderful!
My friend couldn’t believe how many people he’s encountered who told him they would have refused such a promotion because they wouldn’t be ready and would probably fail. To them we both would say not to limit yourself by a feeling of lack of preparation! Don’t be one of those people who only applies if they check all the boxes. If you check them all you aren’t stretching yourself enough.
If you’re open to more things, more things will present themselves to you. Pursue opportunities. Talk about your options. You don’t need to walk every path, but if you are always talking about your options you’ll never become someone who regrets their lack of options.
Those obstacles that have you saying “no” to even the idea of exploring your options can be worked out. Don’t dwell on them. Saying “yes” to finding out what options you have is the first step in finding your Next Great Next.
Want to discuss? You have the option to reach out and contact me… .
Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.
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