Show up and ask for what you want instead


There’s this cool project coming up you’d love to be part of.
There’s this super exciting team lead position soon to be vacant you’d love to take over.
There this fantastic development programme in your company you’d love to be selected for.  
There is the perfect opportunity to pursue your dream, follow your purpose, thrive and blossom.

But… you do nothing – except for sitting back, sighing, hoping, dreaming of, waiting for – to be invited. And guess what? This doesn’t happen. Waiting to be recognised and invited won’t take you anywhere. It only makes you feel bad – rejected, overlooked, hurt, not recognised for all your efforts, your talents not appreciated…and you make yourself dependent on the attention and goodwill of others.

Sound familiar? This happened to you and probably more than once. These have been painful experiences you don’t want to undergo again. And you ask: How can I get out of this trap? Show up and ask for what you want. And here I am – putting my finger on the wound. Read further to learn ways out of this despair.


First, find out what’s holding you back


When asked why they wait for being invited, women often say something along these lines:

  • It’s so hard to find a quiet minute to speak to my line manager.
  • I don’t know how to ask and argument for my case.
  • They probably already have enough participants/ the right people on the board.
  • I need to finish first my current project before I have time for …
  • I don’t have the right skills yet. I first need to learn …
  • I’m not gonna taken anyway.

Let’s face it: These are often lame excuses. Your line manager isn’t that unavailable. You can’t know without having checked that the development programme is already full. Skills can be learnt on the way or even compensated with what you already know. You can shift priorities and manage more than you think. You can get help to work out a compelling  approach. And finally, not believing in yourself won’t make anyone else believe in you.

What’s really behind waiting and holding back are various fears and limiting beliefs. Below I’ve listed some of the most common ones I observe when working with our clients. Go through the lists. What looks familiar to you?

Typical fears

  • fear of rejection
  • fear of ending up in an embarrassing situation
  • fear of getting too much attention
  • fear of becoming vulnerable
  • fear of not being perfect and making mistakes 
  • fear of getting criticised
  • fear of being outed as an imposter
  • fear of being accountable and not being able to handle it
  • fear of disconnection, of not being liked or loved anymore
  • fear of too high costs when showing up

Typical limiting beliefs

  • I’m not smart, good, skilled, fast, you-name-it enough.
  • Who I am to …
  • I need to please others and shouldn’t upset them to make a career.
  • I’m not worth it.
  • Don’t aim too high. I should stick to what I have and be happy.
  • I just have to make an effort, then they’ll invite me automatically.
  • I shouldn’t get more than my colleague. That’s not fair.
  • I can’t pursue my dreams because I may fail.
  • I don’t need to become a leader so I’m not going to strive to get into that development programme.
  • It’s too late to pursue my dreams.

Have you recognised your own fears and beliefs when reading these lists? Well, then it’s time to take the next step: Conquer your fears and reframe your beliefs. If not, get help from one of our coaches or try out the techniques explained in these articles:


Conquer your fears


Hell yes, that’s possible and you don’t need to turn into a martial arts master to do so. Nevertheless, it requires courage. Imagine yourself as an energetic, highly committed and daring warrioress ready to fight for her cause.

  1. Imagine the worst case. Imagine being rejected, imperfect, getting criticised, to not be liked by someone anymore…Keep thinking it through until the end. What is it that you are really afraid of? Bring some humour to the situation and remind yourself that nothing is ever really the end of the world.
  2. Recognise your fear. Give it a name. Accept and embrace it. You’re a human being and it is okay to be fearful.
  3. Accept the fact that you may fail. Allow yourself to fail. It is okay. It’s a natural part of life.
  4. Prepare and practice for asking. Role-play with someone to choose the right words, work out compelling arguments, and gain confidence.


Reframe your limiting beliefs


Done with your fears? Let’s turn to your limiting beliefs and relabel them into something positive, encouraging and helpful. Imagine yourself as a  serene and knowing queen, in command and ready to decide.

  1. Know that there is a positive intention behind every limiting belief. It has been developed to help you in some way, to keep you safe and unharmed. Thus, same as with your fears, recognise your limiting belief. Give it a name. Accept and embrace it.
  2. Identify the positive intention of the limiting belief. What does it want for you? And what can you do to assure your belief that you take care of yourself – in your own way?
  3. Reformulate the limiting belief. For instance, “I’m not good enough” can be changed into “I give my best” or “I am useless at writing reports” into “I find writing reports challenging”.
  4. Challenge your belief and ask yourself “Is this true?”. Apply The Work from Byron Katie.


Take action

Now you’ve conquered your fears and reframed your limiting beliefs, it’s time to show up and ask for what you want.

  1. Prepare what and how you want to ask
  2. Make an appointment – at least with yourself to meet the respective person
  3. Ask clearly and boldly for what you want
  4. Ask for support if necessary
  5. Think about alternatives and prepare a plan B (e.g. save money yourself if you don’t get it paid your employer, find a sponsor or ask for a scholarship)


The next time you catch yourself holding back and waiting to be invited, come back to this article and go through the exercises again!
Show up, take your place and lead your change!

Dagmar Hopf. Azkua

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