Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nobody Ever Asked Me To:

#1: Get my first raise.

I'm reading Timothy Ferriss's The 4-Hour Work Week and I was particularly impressed with the risks and chances he's taken throughout his life. It made me look at my background in a different light. I've always thought of myself as a low-risk/no-risk taker, a guy who'd rather be miserable with the status quo than chance getting called on the carpet for his actions.

But I've been able to identify times in my life when I actually did take risks. Tim's examples have helped me see that what I've previously thought were errors and faux pas actions can be taken as assertive and positive. In each case, I noticed that my success in the risk taking was due to my having started along the path, and nobody asked me to begin that journey.

Take my first job out of college, with the federal government. I noticed I should have been hired at a higher grade level since I had a college degree. I asked the personnel office about getting a raise. They said "we'll see what we can do." I went back to work.

A few days later, I get called into the Director's office. She's holding a form. She says: "I just received this from Personnel. They're asking me to sign it in order to raise your grade level. What do you have to do with this?"

"Well, I said, "I saw that people with a college degree should be hired at that grade level, and I just went to Personnel to talk to them about it."

The director continued. "We don't do things that way here. Employees should not be requesting pay raises. They must be approved by either myself or, to start with, your supervisor before official paperwork is started."

"Sorry," I said. "I didn't know, since I've just been here a month."

The director sits down, takes out a pen and signs the form. "However, I'm going to put this through and approve your new pay level."

I was a bit shocked. "Did I do something right or wrong here?" I wondered. "She's telling me I did something wrong, yet acting as if I did something right."

"Thank you," I said. "I won't do it again."

And that's how I got my first raise.

I need to remember that more often, and concentrate more on other times when I asserted myself, especially now since I'm trying to get myself to take more chances.

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