January 25, 2016
by Patty Lam
In this article, I will not tell you what you should say or should not say in interviews or 13 things you should never say at work. And no, I am not here to teach you how to handle difficult bosses with 14 steps neither.
Instead, I want to share a story with you.
No to Everything
I would describe my candidate as a hopeless introvert. This is what I have written on my interview note about her “She is so quiet, shy and unlike most people, she has never had a problem saying no to others.” No to letting her colleagues borrow a pen from her. No to after work drinks. No to business trip. No to a decent job offer because she is scared of the new environment. No, no, no. Two letters slid off her tongue so natural that eventually people stopped asking her to do things, because everyone around her confidently assumed they already knew her answer would be a No.
I have to say, she caught my interest.
Avoid Everything That Isn’t Within Her Comfort Zone
She told me for most of her life she has been shackled by fear. She has been scared of trying new things, scared of meeting new people, scared of facing a new environment, scared of anything that might lead to failure. Basically, her principle was pretty simple: She will avoid everything is not within her comfort zone.
I was really upset after knowing her story. I was thinking, probably the girl sitting in front of me has never actually laughed or even did anything without fearing what would happen next. Instead of telling her that she is going to be fine, I decided to ask her a favor – I hope she could start saying yes to new things, as long as it is not illegal and does not violate her own moral code.
We All Have Dreams
Four months later, I have got a text message from her telling me that she got an opportunity to transfer to the UK office. She also mentioned “yes” this word segued into all kinds of new experiences and surprisingly, it was just as easy for her to say yes as it was to say no.
I am pretty sure she must got asked questions like “How can you possibly move so far away from your family for a job?” or “Are you afraid of being alone?” or “What if the job doesn’t work out?” Those can nearly activate the fear gene in her.
Does it sounds familiar to you? Do you still remember when you were young and the world was you oyster? You played around with your friends, colored on the walls and snuck into the cookie jar. Fearless and unconcerned with the fact that a time out was headed your way. Your answer was always a yes to whether you felt like doing and then you became adults. Your dreams and sense of adventure faded away with your imaginary friends. Eventually, you got comfortable for just being existing.
Reality is, we all have dreams. But for most of the time, we like making excuses for not pursuing them. Often these excuses are not apparent. It is more like a matter of inertia, of just ignoring the dreams, of maintaining the existing state. I understand some people may think “No” keeps everything predictable. But if you can be strong, you can break out of your comfort zone and get more out of life through the simple power of yes.
Comfort Zone Is A Beautiful Place But Nothing Ever Grow There
Looking back, there was no road map to my post-grad life. I have always been thinking about what if I said no to my first job offer? I wouldn’t be helping clients find the good candidates or helping candidates find a better job or even their dream jobs. I wouldn’t be given chances to meet so many awesome people out there. And definitely, I wouldn’t be writing this blog and sharing my experience and thoughts with you.
Of course, comfort can breed a successful story. However, what is a really good successful story without some discomfort?