If an opportunity enhances your knowledge and plays up your strengths, say 'yes.'
MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What is one piece of advice all millennials should take before entering the workforce? is written by Jennifer Steinmann, Chief Talent Officer of Deloitte.
It’s sometimes one of the scariest words in the English language, but it’s a word you should be prepared to say when opportunities arise in your career: Yes.
I’m not saying you should blindly accept everything that’s offered to you, it’s okay to take time when considering the pros and cons of an opportunity. But, when you find yourself leaning toward “No,” you owe it to yourself to be sure that you’re turning down the opportunity for a valid reason, not just out of fear.
Consider this: Will the experience enhance your knowledge and play to your strengths? Will it introduce you to new concepts and new people? (All great reasons to say yes!) Will it require you to develop new techniques for managing your team or working with more experienced people? Embrace this challenge and get out of your comfort zone.
When I find myself wanting to shout “No!” to an opportunity, that’s a sure sign to me that the answer should probably be “Yes.” So, I take a deep breath and analyze the situation as objectively as possible.
Remember, no one is ever perfectly prepared for every situation. You’ve probably discovered this by now. Your education gave you a foundation for the job, but growth happens in the trenches. Maybe you motivated your team not just to meet the new deadline, but to deliver extraordinary work. Perhaps you realized you had more poise than you ever expected in a client situation. Or, you suddenly discovered that you can capitalize on the relationships you’ve built and become a “rainmaker” for your organization. Before you can learn any of these things, you have to learn to say “Yes.” It’s okay to acknowledge the butterflies in your stomach; however, it’s not okay to let them stifle your growth.
When you need help, reach out to people in your networks – that’s what they’re there for. Whether you need a confidence-boosting pep talk or advice about building your technical experience — your mentor, your colleagues, and your manager can help. You may not know how to do something today, but chances are you’re smart enough to find someone who can help you learn it. And once you do, don’t unfasten your seatbelt – there’s always going to be another challenge headed your way.
My grandmother’s favorite poem was Invictus by William Ernest Henley. My father hung a copy of it on our kitchen wall, so I grew up reading it every day: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” I think the best advice I can give anyone – especially someone just starting out in business – is to embrace your role as master of your own fate. Recognize opportunities when they arise and get comfortable saying “Yes.”
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