Career Bravery

Those of you noticing a pattern realize that this idea of career development and how to get it are a regular theme for me, and for many Millennials. But putting all of the preparation, research and knowledge to use? That’s a different thing altogether.

Several months ago, I finished the audiobook version of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Click the links to find my review of the pros and the cons. My current audiobook companion on my daily commute is How to Grow a Backbone: 10 Strategies for Gaining Power and Influence at Work by Susan Marshall. It’s an older book, and so far I’m finding that a lot of it is fairly out of touch or can very easily lead to a person becoming a frequent violator of the “Don’t be an A*hole” rule, but I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt in part because I have found a few good tips in it.

Those of you noticing a pattern realize that this idea of career development and how to get it are a regular theme for me, and for many Millennials. We aren’t satisfied with doing the same thing over and over again with no changes/challenges. We spend our weekends or free time studying new subjects we are interested in or preparing to take certification exams which will aid us in career transitions. We keep an eye on the job market, keep our resumes updated, and read and research career development.  But putting all of the preparation, research and knowledge to use? That’s a different thing altogether.

Then I ran across this TED Talk from Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code. Normally I skip these things because a lot of these talks focused on getting more girls into the Tech sector seem to think that coding is the only way to do it, when it reality  A) there are lots of tech jobs that do not require coding and B) emphasizing coding as a female-recruiting job savior is risky, especially when in the not-so-distant future computers will be writing their own code. But this talk as very different…and very inspiring.

Some people worry about our federal deficit, but I, I worry about our bravery deficit. Our economy, our society, we’re just losing out because we’re not raising our girls to be brave. The bravery deficit is why women are underrepresented in STEM, in C-suites, in boardrooms, in Congress, and pretty much everywhere you look.
– Reshma Saujani

Bravery. That is the key to all of these books and all of this advice. I agree with Reshma that women tend to be socialized more towards perfection than bravery; I know it’s something I struggle with.

But with the help of these books I have been reading and this TED Talk, I have started to take risks I would have thought crazy not so long ago. I’ve never had a problem asking questions or contributing to group discussions. I didn’t think it risky when I proposed adding microlearning to our customer education platform as a department-wide project. But what I did find risky is when I recently sat down with my boss to ask her after 3 1/2 years with the company, what kinds of work should I do or projects should I complete to meet requirements for a promotion. I never would have had the guts to do that even six months ago, and my heart was pounding the whole meeting. But the most important thing is that I walked away from that meeting with answers to those questions, regardless of how nervous I was. It was a brave step for me, and now that I have done it I not only feel comfortable doing it again, but I know the path I should follow. And knowing that? Well, it’s worth all of the fear and nerves it took to get that knowledge.

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