The following was originally posted to Paragonfire.


There is something difficult we must talk about. Something no one really likes to admit. A fear many of us face. What is this treacherous topic?

Asking for help.

Now, asking for help from friends or family for support, help with a move, during illness or other life circumstances is something most of us will do more than once. This is not the type of ‘ask’ I am referring to.

I am talking about the career ‘ask’. Asking for the raise, the promotion, the leadership role or speaking engagement, the opportunity to do something that will advance your career.

Too often, we wait for someone to offer us the chance. We prepare for the opportunity so when it knocks, we are ready. But guess what? No one can read your mind. If you do not verbalize what you want to do next, what you are preparing for, its like trying to pack for a vacation when you do not know if you are going to Alaska or Hawaii. You waste your valuable time and effort planning for anything and everything. Had you asked about your agenda, you would focus your energy on exactly what you need, prepare and execute the trip.

Careers and promotion can be like this. Yes, we can have mentors for support, sponsors may spontaneously offer opportunities, yet it may not be right on target for us.

What do you want to do next? Do you have a 5 year plan? a 1 year plan? Think about what you want to do next – what experiences or training do you need? Do you need to demonstrate expertise by teaching? Writing more? Speaking? Taking on a new leadership role?

Invest the time into making these decisions and formulating what you need. Create a list of who may be able to help you with finding those opportunities. Contact them and ideally, ask if you can meet for coffee or set up a time to chat. Be prepared with your goals and needs. And always, ALWAYS, consider if there is anything you can offer that person in return. A well-done ‘ask’ is the key to efficient and effective success in any endeavor you pursue.

Do not fear asking. People will say no – is a guarantee. That’s normal. Expect it. However, you can counteract your disappointment by asking if they have an alternative suggestion. Someone will say YES eventually. I promise. Prepare for the YES.

And please, do me a favor. Pay it forward. Say YES to someone else every chance you get. Bring someone up with you. There is enough room for everyone to succeed.