what is one thing you would try if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Friday, August 22, 2014 |
I wrote a few months ago about getting my new job because of skills I learned from blogging.  That’s still true, and incidentally, I still love my job (yay!).  But in that post I also made a note that I’d been at my company for three years and earned their respect prior to landing this job-that-I-love.  Penelope Trunk (an author and entrepreneur who writes great stuff on career and life) wrote a post today on respect and said, look at what you do well. Now. That’s what earns you respect, whether you like it or not.

Penelope writes really raw, honest things, and I respect her for that: she does it well.  And her post made me think about what I do well, and how exactly I earned my own workplace respect.

I (initially) earned respect by asking questions.  And no, they weren’t job-related questions.  Here’s the story: I was given a dark corner cubicle where I could have hidden away and never learned anyone’s names and eventually faded from existence.  That might be an exaggeration… *might*  The one redeeming characteristic of this cubicle was a whiteboard (I didn’t need a whiteboard).  So I wiped it clean and put up a silly question, probably something like “What is your favorite color?”

My secret: I have nice handwriting, and I’m vain about it.  THAT is why I wrote a question.  The good news is that people came by, noticed my question, and responded.  Soon, I was writing up a new question every day.  I was also okay at my job, but that question-a-day routine was what helped me connect with my coworkers and learn more about my office and eventually transition to another role (and from that to this one!).

We moved to a new office, and the whiteboard moved to the kitchen.  I still write up the question every day.  When new hires go on a tour, I’m introduced as ‘the person who writes the questions on the board.’  I’ve earned respect at work for being good at asking questions.

Another secret: I rarely answer my own questions. I may be good at asking (or finding sources to use when I can’t think of a question), but I don’t have a quick processor upstairs.  I mull, I weigh, and often the entire day goes by without an answer popping into my mind.  Related: It takes me forever to write book reviews.

Anyway, all that to say that I put today’s question up at 9am, and I still haven’t thought of an answer.  It may be just that I am a slow thinker, but it may also be that I am scared of more than just failure.  I may be scared of responsibility, or expectations.

But hey, it’s not all about me (and my possible fear).  I love today’s question, and I love the different answers.  I wanted to figure out a way to ask it on my blog.  So here you go (and I’m sorry you had to ramble through bits on respect and the history of my job/questions to get there):

What is one thing you would try if you knew you couldn’t fail?


Ginny Larsen said...

my own art/ design/ scrapbooking company.

Tanya Patrice said...

I love this post! Here's one ting - without knowing the impact it would have. I recently moved into a role of managing a department in a high stress environment. Everyone has shirts with their first name on it. I asked if I could get "Team Awesome" on my shirt instead of my name. It helps that I'm good at my job too. I constantly mentiion that people are doing an :awesome" job. Joke with them - add them to the team, and kick them off daily :-) And I word bomb white boards all over with "Good Morning Team Awesome" or Good Job Team Awesome.

So, it's definitely helped me get noticed and welcomed - did I mention I'm the only female manager :-)

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

This is a wonderful post. And I don't know what my answer to the question would be. I guess I'd write a book and get it published and that would be my one thing. I know that's a small goal and I should aim for something more lofty and world-helpful, but I think the book thing is what I would really do.

Kristen M. said...

I would apply for grad school. At this point I've been out of school and work for so long that I don't have references or related experience. But if I knew I would get in, I would go for it!

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