I am not old enough that I have learned all very important life lessons (I don’t think anybody, regardless of age, ever learns them all).
Today was one that has been in the works for a while.
The secret to being successful:
1. Know what you want.
2. Ask for it.
And that’s really it. Asking for it might be literally asking for it – “can I have a raise?” “can I have a promotion?” “can I have that job?” “can I be the one to take care of that?” – or doing things that put you in the position to do/have what you want, and then making your needs/wants known.
I was raised in a pretty traditional, old-fashioned family. Therefore, I have a difficult time asking for the things I want. My parents and grandparents stressed that you do not ask for something unless it’s something that is an essential need. You don’t ask for water when visiting someone, unless you’re parched to the point of being uncomfortable (and then you always preface it with, “I hate to bother you, but…”). If offered, you turn it down a couple of times before accepting, as this makes you seem gracious and not greedy.
This doesn’t actually work outside of certain controlled social situations. More familiarity apparently means less need to wait to be asked, and instead allows you to go and ask from the get-go. If you don’t ask, you might never get what you want. Somebody else will ask for it, get it, and you’ll be left wondering why you didn’t ask first.
Now, you have to make sure you’re asking for something you really need, and observe social cues to tell when it’s appropriate to ask for things. I have been appalled while watching America’s Next Top Model (big surprise), when models have consistently asked to keep the clothing they’re modeling, as if they’re entitled to it.
But the truth is this: while it is unacceptable to behave as though you’re entitled to something, it is acceptable to ask for the important things. Often, someone won’t know what it is you want (or need) unless you ask for it. And once you’ve done it, it’s not as scary as you imagined.