What My 9-Year Old Can Teach You About Career Development

Liz Brenner

career developmentLast summer, my daughter and I attended Take Your Child To Work Day in my office. I’m very lucky – my company goes all out and makes the day really special for the kids with a full agenda from breakfast to an afternoon ice cream social.

When we arrived in the café for breakfast, Sophie was awestruck – not because of the beautiful campus, the spread of delicious food, or the hundreds of children – but because of the enormous white and blue balloon centerpieces on each table.

“Mom, check those out. Do you think we can bring one home with us?” asked Sophie.

“Absolutely not- those are for decoration only.” I said in my best “don’t even think about it” voice and we went on to enjoy our breakfast.

Later, I returned to the cafeteria to meet up with Sophie for our ice cream social. I was immediately pulled aside by one of the program leads, “we just enjoyed your daughter so much today – she was enthusiastic, asked great questions, and she was so determined to get one of those centerpieces. She wouldn’t take no for an answer so we gave in.”

I was speechless….not only did she get what she was after, but she started a small revolution in the process since there was only a handful of balloons for hundreds of kids. Shortly after, I saw Sophie approaching me with the balloons and I couldn’t help but smile thinking about what I like to call her passionate “spirit of asking.”

There are so many ways we can apply this same “passion” to our work life.  Very early on in my career, I used to think that my hard work would be instantly recognized and promotions, raises, opportunities would appear for me. It took a few hard lessons to realize I was way off.

We need to be proactive about sharing our successes and assertive about asking for the things that we want, need, and deserve. I can remember a discussion with my manager when I asked for a raise. Her response? Before we talk about the raise part, let me say that I respect the fact that you asked because most people don’t.

So, for 2013, I want to encourage everyone to take a page from Sophie’s book and start ASKING. If you aren’t convinced yet, I’ve created a pros and cons list to help you think this through:

Isn’t the answer clear? As I drove home from Take your Child to Work Day, my visibility obstructed by a huge white balloon, I could only think that Sophie’s tenacious, relentless “spirit of asking” is a huge asset.