What does it take to utter those words, to say what you want? What gets in your way? Do you sometimes expect others to read your mind or reciprocate your feelings? Are you playing a waiting game or just sitting there to see what happens? Are you hoping that one day someone will discover that special gift in you and take your career or business to the next level? And? If none of your old tricks has worked, are you open to new tricks even though they may make you uncomfortable at first?
Back in the March 2014 conference, when our MD was presenting, he was talking about what he’s learnt during his time with the company which he created 2 decades ago. Out of 10 points he raised, one struck me like an electricity shock. He said it point-blank: “You will not get the business unless you ask for it”. This message was so profound that has stuck with me since. To find truth in it, I didn’t have to look too far. My sister is a classic example. The steps she took to get a promotion to the position of Financial Controller in a well-known recruitment firm, Japan, were astonishing. It wasn’t just one-shot thing but multiple attempts for 2 years to get where she is today. The hurdles she overcame, the office politics she endured, at the end she got it. Undeniably it was an amazing achievement for a foreigner, a woman and a minority living in such a homogeneous society. I can visualise the glass ceiling being smashed, leaving shards of glass all over the floor! The notion of the sky is the limit no longer applies to today’s world. It is a cliché but the only limit we have is the limits we set for ourselves.
Contrary to my sister, I’ve been this old-school guy. I prefer to work hard, earn my credit, get noticed and wait for people to promote me, one day. Yes, one day… It sounds like a good virtue but deep down it’s driven by fears. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of losing face. That said, in a do-or-die situation, we often become bigger than fears for the sake of survival.
During my job seeking days, those rules I had about getting ahead were thrown out the window. Why? Because I knew when stakes are high, when competition is fierce, there’s no place for humbleness. Best save all the humanity for the winner speech later. Through trial and error, I learned to adopt a self-promotion approach to get myself shortlisted way before I could even get a foot in the door.
Now back to basics. If I want people to read my mind, I need to be an open-book myself. If I want people to reciprocate my feelings, I need to let my guard down, articulate and express my feelings clearly. If I want more readership, I need to give readers ideas they can relate to or useful to them. If I want more business, I need to show up and tell them what I can offer first. Self-promotion is not about bragging about yourself or promoting your own self-interest, it’s about bringing out the best in you. It’s not a big ask, is it?