Career Growth, Confidence

Always say “YES”

If you come from a place of no, you’ll end up middle-of-the-pack with the rest of the people who are content to be average. If you want to excel, stand out, and be successful, you’ll always say yes to new opportunities, new experiences, and new challenges.

Typically what happens with women is they start worrying about hypothetical situations that might never happen. Women worry about whether they have the skills to do this, the time to do it, whether they have enough information, or even if they’re the right person for the job.

Then women start over-thinking the situation (this is when you’re fixated on stuff that happened in the past). You start ruminating over your failures and mistakes, playing them over and over again in your mind until you’re either depressed or convinced yourself you’re not up for the task.

When I was an undergraduate student my university mentor asked me to be on his research team, and I was so shocked that he believed and me and thought I had something of value to add, that I immediately started giving him reasons as to why I wasn’t the right candidate! Can you believe this?

This is what I said:

“Are you sure you want me on your research team?”

“I’m sure there are way more qualified people than I am.”

“How can I work with grad students when I’m only an undergraduate, they’ll think I’m an idiot?”

“I don’t know what I could contribute; I haven’t even finished my degree.”

“Are you sure you think I can handle this?”

“What if we’re researching stuff I’ve never learned about or know nothing about?”

Just typing this up makes me cringe with embarrassment. I was basically giving him multiple and continuous reasons why I wasn’t qualified. He’s the professor, he’s got the PhD, he’s the one with the research grant, he’s the boss, and he wanted me on the team. He knew what he was doing, and this was my response. Pitiful!  Never again.

Working for him taught me SO many valuable lessons.

  • Always believe in yourself. Even when you’re scared out of your mind, you must fake that confidence until it becomes natural.
  • You can figure it out later. Always say yes to different opportunities, and figure out how you’ll do it afterwards. WHY, why, why do women feel the need to have it all perfectly figured out ahead of time? This is a perfectionist attribute that is so harmful to your career and your mental health. Just say yes, and then figure it out as you go. Learning on the job is almost always more beneficial than having your “book smarts.” –I learned more in my various RA positions over the course of 10+ years then I EVER learned in school. Learning as you go is just what positive successful people do. Took me a while to figure this out.

Over the years, whenever I was presented with a new task, something I’ve never done before I always say YES.

  • Yes, I’ll learn that new software program.
  • Yes, I’ll interview gamblers even though I’ve never conducted a qualitative interview before. Yikes!
  • Yes, I’ll apply for graduate school, even though I might not get in.
  • Yes, I’ll keep applying for grad school even though I got rejected the last year.
  • Yes, I’ll be a teaching assistant, even though holy crap! Will students listen to me??
  • Yes, I’ll teach a class, even though I’ve only ever been a teaching assistant.
  • Yes, I’ll manage 4 teaching assistants, even though I’ve never done it before.
  • Yes, I’ll teach a class of 250 students, even though I’m used to only 80 students.
  • Yes, I’ll teach a new course even though it starts in 2 weeks and it’s not my direct area of expertise.
  • Yes, I’ll apply for a post-doctoral position interviewing homeless people and addictions even though that’s not my specialty and everyone complains about how difficult it is to get post-doc positions, and I’ll probably not get it, but ok, I’ll try.
  • Yes, I’ll learn that new software, and yes I’ll publish papers, and yes I’ll present at conferences, and yes I’ll start a new company, and………
  • Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

SAY YES. You’ll be continuously rewarded for being a life-long learner.