Women don't ask. It's just not in our nature.
We work hard and think when it's time for something to happen that it will. Someone will magically read our minds. Spouses and partners always know what we want for Christmas, right?
So why is it that when it doesn't happen, that when we don't ask ... our worlds fall apart?
It's been cathartic to process my own experiences with these topics this week: influence, leaving a job, and now this, why women don't ask.
- We don't ask because we are afraid of the answer we've already created in our heads.
- We don't ask because we don't know how.
- We don't ask because we focus on getting things done, caring for others (and what they think) and not putting number 1 first.
There. I said it. Does it make any sense? We need to get beyond this. I know I have.
You may be thinking Katie, but, it's SO easy for extroverts to ask. They always raise their hands. Nope. Even us extroverts live in a world of thoughts and fears.
A few years ago, I was working for a company that took me through an amazing growth journey in my life and career. I flew all over the world, connected with people, led amazing projects, and learned the most I've ever experienced in my adult life. I was valued, found purpose and 95% of the time, I loved getting up and going in to do my best.
The fast track got even faster. I was promoted, got married and within 6 months became pregnant on the heels of taking a crazy yet exciting job that had me on the road. For a woman who travelled plenty before, this wasn't new but as a new mother, I was on high-octane. My first day back from maternity leave was on a 777 to a team meeting my mentor says I could have done via video. "Nah...I am superwoman and I can do this."
Secretly though I was tired. New kid, no sleep, raging hormones, and 35 extra pounds on my back. It was hell. I tried to smile. I tried to like it.
Bigger picture view, though...I really didn't have it all that bad. Mrs. Change Leader just didn't know how to manage all the change. My boss was a good guy but in Malaysia, 13 hours away. His boss was 7 hours away. Both were distant and didn't see all of the pressure mounting. They didn't know what I was going through, and why would they?
I was Super Woman so why break the news to them I wasn't?
Why tell them their super star performer working crazy hours trying to be a wife, mother, be fit, clean up poop and all the rest of the stuff that came with this new amazing chapter in life?
(Hey, are you tired yet just reading?)
I didn't ASK for what I needed. I thought I asked but I wasn't clear. After all what new mom raging with hormones who is away from home 50% of the time worried she's on the path to a divorce is rational? What mom who wasn't supposed to have kids is coping well with life after a hard pregnancy? (Hint...this was a crazy few years!)
Forget the bosses. I had a real living breathing group of advocates across the world who knew me, my capacity and achievements. They knew the leader who had energy but just needed some space to figure it out and pace it.
Guess what? I didn't ask them either. I lived alone in my thoughts. And one day, about two years into the role, I leaped. I left for sound reasons: better benefits (hello, on site daycare) and an amazing opportunity to work with an executive team at a company struggling to turnaround.
But it did make me wonder why ...
I didn't ask. And "what if I had?"
The good news is ... I ask now. I countered on my offer for the new job and they said 'yes'.
Okay, so repeat after me. Stand up and take the oath.
"On my honor. I will stop worrying. I will stop creating stuff in my head. I will ask. And when I see a woman struggling, I will remind her she needs to ask."
You got this. Life is too short. Just ask.