Think back to a time when you doubted yourself at work, maybe even felt nervous or scared.
Was there someone there to build you up? Someone to give you a talk like the one Al Pacino gave in Any Given Sunday?
...Reminding you of all your wins and that you’ve had more successes than failures?
To nudge you forward to triumph?
Here’s something I witnessed at work more times than I can count: people will tell you you're "not ready", when you are.
This is something I hear a lot from people seeking
"I want this and I'm willing to work for it, but I'm beginning to doubt myself because they're telling me to wait, that I’m not ready. I’m not sure what to do.” This makes you question your judgment when you shouldn't and it can derail your career, because it kills momentum.
Momentum is the unsung hero of many a triumph. It’s critical to your career and it’s hard to get back once you’ve lost it.
At work, you're usually a little more susceptible to the power of suggestion than in your personal life, because work gives you security and peace of mind you're reluctant to disrupt.
On the field of your personal life, you might say “Oh, yeah? Not ready you say? Hand me the bat and let me show you what 'ready' looks like.”
And you swing for the fences. At the office you're more likely to yield to the assessments of others. You don’t want to upset the apple cart.
Have you heard one of these greatest hits:
“Maybe next year."
"We need you to step up first," or
"You’ve only been at your level two years …”
or some number they deem universally insufficient. If that or any similar rhetoric has come your way, I'll let you in on a secret, most of the time, it's complete rot.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and people will tell you, "You're not ready" when you are ready.
The usual career advice: "Work hard, keep your head down, you'll get noticed" serves your employer brilliantly, but it puts you in the position of waiting for other people to tell you when they’re ready for you to move up,
which has nothing to do with whether or not you’re ready.
When you get impatient (understandably!) and push, maybe you'll get some actionable feedback, usually not; classic Mushroom School of Management method.
And it can feel like you have no other option, but you do.
If you take their word for it, you can, and likely will, waste years. The call on your readiness is yours alone to make.
Success won't come from being someone else’s version of "ready." Make that call for yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you and make your move before being anointed with "readiness," not after.
Sure, there are a few areas where this is ill advised, cardio thoracic surgery comes to mind, but for most people in most careers, you’re better off pushing the limits of what you’re allegedly “ready” for than waiting for someone to sign your permission slip.
All too often, you buy their “you’re not ready” version.
And one of two things happens:
You get more work without more money or authority or told to wait, or both
Imagine what your world would look like if you got overwhelming encouragement instead of underwhelming doubt; someone saying to you:
“You got this, and I've got your back.”
Who wouldn’t want Obi Wan to hand them a light saber and say: “you can do it. The Force is with you.” He didn’t say: “Luke, hang out in this sand trap a little longer, you’re not ready.”
No one gives you the schematics to navigate the house of raises, promotions and career glory; they open the door and say, “In you go! Work hard, keep your head down ... until you get noticed.”
And the years pass.
Being told "You're not ready" can hit you like some kind of professional stun gun.
It's can make you feel like you don't have a play and it's paralyzed many a hard working employee with the potential to lead and influence.
You find yourself thinking you have two choices wait or quit.
Most people wait, because it's easier.
It's almost always the wrong call - now you can wait for the market or for reasons of convenience, but don't wait because you value their assessment of your potential over your own.
This can be one of the most important moments in your career.
And too often you don’t realize how important this decision is. You’re deciding if you're going to own your career or be owned by someone else.
To a make this choice, look at your career outside of the context of your company's needs; 99.9% of the time they see whether you're ready for advancement in terms of whether or not it suits them.
Don't take it personally, that's their job. Your job is to take 100% responsibility for your career and choose for yourself.
Don't squander your time, talent and good faith not getting this.
Here’s the reality:
If you’re a little scared, that’s normal. In fact, that’s not just a good sign, it’s a fabulous one. Pick up the bat. Swing for the fences. You're ready.
Want to get into action. Job Hunt School gives you the latest tactical job hunt tool and support for you to know your value and find your place. Learn more here.
The best thing you can do for your career is help someone else with theirs.
In that spirit...
Who do you know who would benefit from hearing this message? You can share it using the buttons below.
What do you think? Add a comment below or post an emoji👍🏼 in the comments.