I was listening to a podcast interview of Reese Witherspoon about her career journey. (Check out Second Life!) Throughout the interview, she speaks about her growth from actress to producer, and how she realized that she was capable of creating the types of movies she wanted to star in and watch.
There is a moment in the episode that struck me. Reese found herself struggling to get work, and when she looked around at the people who had the power to give it to her, she had a moment of “why not me?” (To be fair, she credits this phrase to Mindy Kaling.)
My “Big” Moment
In some form or another, this sentiment came to me when I first decided to start Confia, my career coaching business. I was looking around for meaningful work and the options I found weren’t big enough to encompass what I knew I could offer. I’m sure I could have continued the search and landed on something rewarding, but I already had Confia on my mind.
I went through a mind-shift. I was looking for someone to give me purpose, but landed on “why not me?”
All the Little Moments
People heavily associate entrepreneurship with starting a company, but I’ve witnessed it from all levels. Anyone with a “why not me” attitude can experience ownership. It is a combination of initiative and action. It is finding the hole and moving in to fill it out.
Is your team in desperate need of a new process? Why wouldn’t you be the one to create it?
Is there a missing invoicing function? Why wouldn’t you handle it?
Is there an awesome conference coming up that would benefit your team? Why not pitch it to your boss?
While you can’t take on everything and need to prioritize your time, stop looking around for someone else to fix the problem.
You might be thinking, “Why would I sign up for even more work?!”
The key to combating these feelings of bitterness is to only take on work that benefits you.
Choice: You might think of these moments as volunteer opportunities. So much of your career is dictated by your boss, but ultimately you get to choose to go the extra mile. Pick areas of interest to spend your excess mental energy.
Exposure: Taking initiative will get you noticed, even if all the work isn’t pleasant. Use these ownership opportunities to stand out or to work with people you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to interact with.
Experience: It’s hard to get hired for work you’ve never done before, so use these “side projects” as a way to expand your resume.
Years of taking initiative as both an individual contributor and a manager is what allowed me to make the biggest jump to owner.
Maybe you don’t want to run a business, don’t have a good idea, or aren’t ready yet. You can still practice “why not me” in all aspects of your current career.