Software techies have a term for managing different versions of a program- release management, version control, software development life cycle, continuous development, and others. I relate to these when I think about my own personal development journey and my own management of the different versions of myself throughout the day, week or month. I continue to explore what version(s) of me works best in my interactions with others. Certainly, my first few decades of life were all about serving others, often to my own detriment. Eventually, I had to learn how it looked to put myself first and ‘be’ me, more than ‘doing’ for others, and create that new version of myself.
I took a lot of risks in my 20’s that shaped my career and also pushed me through some personal growth spurts that afforded me a great life. I want to share how I was able to create this opportunity for myself by leveraging the system and continuing to upgrade myself through the process.
#1 I knew the system.
Since I had the experience of building a startup within an established firm, I had relationships with everyone. I knew how all departments operated, how each leader ran each department, and how I could either leverage what they were doing for our service needs, or had to build it from scratch with their support. I knew the system.
#2 I built the relationships on trust and follow through.
As I learned how things operated for other departments, I would use what I could, and build what I needed. But most of all, I would share what I was doing with other leaders in the firm so they felt included or could use what we had built. If they had asked something of me, I would follow through. I was a trusted leader in the firm, and had the relationships to back me up. So when I asked to move to NY, I knew it was possible they would want me to stay, and I was also OK if they didn’t. I had built up a skill set that I was certain I could sell in NY. I had built relationships with the custodians who were mostly based in NY. I knew once I got out there, I would network like I did when I moved to San Francisco and find a way.
#3 I learned my path is my path.
I had the hard lesson of hitting a glass ceiling in my job previously and learned quickly that my path is my path, no one else's. People are gracious along the way to guide me and advise me, but it is up to me to make the life I choose.
I decided to take a risk and move back to New York and was willing to let go of my cushy job in San Francisco. Before I resigned, I decided to assess if the company would support my move and allow me to work from NY. Why not? I had nothing to lose. I knew the work I was doing at the time was really of no interest to anyone else to manage. I also knew we were in such a growth spurt in building the business and our client base, that it may hurt the company if they had to go through a transition to another leader to manage it. Additionally, I had built the trust of my leadership and required minimal supervision. So to them, the risk was lower to see if I could manage my team remotely and still have the same results.
I also knew how HR had operated by this point because I had hired a few people and built relationships there. I knew it was well within my means to ask for more money and relocation package to NY because I had seen them do it for others. I had to ask. Again, the possibility of them saying NO was totally there, but I would not have known what is possible if I did not ask.
They agreed to my relocation to NY and I negotiated a raise and relocation package in order to stay with the firm and work from there. Man, that was a badass moment for me. I was shocked they said yes to everything I asked for and made my move seamless. The point is, I asked before I abandoned the situation. If I got a no to my request, I would have started my transition into something else and still moved. But in this case I learned if I don’t ask, I just don’t know what is possible.
I coach people on this every day, because it is the best lesson to learn. You just don’t know until you ask. And you especially don’t know if the story you are telling yourself in your head is true unless you hear it directly from the other person or people in that story.
Ask with purpose and clear intentions and don’t be afraid of the ‘no’. The ‘no’ is the best answer sometimes because it shows you exactly where you stand and allows you to check in and see if it is still good enough for you to stay where you are. It is how you learn your value and if there is potential to grow in this specific situation.