Audacious or Disrespectful? Going After Those Big Dreams
Not too long ago I sat in a book club with a group of education professionals. The focus of our conversation was this: our dreams don’t necessarily have to be big or bold, but rather many of us have small dreams we pursue in our day-to-day lives. As the conversation progressed, a colleague pointed out how big dreams often feel so daunting. She continued on to say she felt this part of the book gave her permission to let go of extravagant dreams and instead focus on the smaller ones in which she was more likely to succeed. The discussion quickly turned to the audacity of individuals going after big things, and how maybe some people just need to be thankful for what they have. To be grateful for their current jobs.
At this point in my career, a personal goal I had for myself was to listen to others in meetings and keep my big mouth shut so I could actually learn from other people, but you know I piped in on this one. I wondered aloud why it was acceptable to have smaller, perhaps more achievable dreams, but audacious to strive for the big dreams. That perhaps the author was trying to teach us no matter what a person's dream is, no matter how big or small you perceive it to be, there is in fact room for all types and sizes. Dictionary.com defines audacious as recklessly brave. If there was ever a definition I could get behind, this one is it right here. Audacious isn't negative in my book. It is being brave in all the best ways.
So how can we live this out in a tangible way? How can we go after our dreams without being perceived as ungrateful? How can we act in audacious ways without being seen as rude or cocky?
1. BE RECKLESS IN RESPECTFUL WAYS
You absolutely cannot walk into a room like you own the place on the first day of your job. But you can, even in your first year, walk into your boss’s office and ask nicely for unpaid days to take that dream trip. You can absolutely request to attend that conference you've been eying for years. You can inquire about working one day a week from home. You CAN. You can ask for whatever you want. What you can’t do is control someone else's response. I firmly believe, though, that you will NEVER get what you want if you don’t ask for it. I also believe bravery often looks reckless to those who are afraid to be brave in their own lives. Don’t let someone else's fear control your life. At the same time reckless does not mean rude. If you live out reckless bravery by bossing all the people around and demanding that everyone bend to your requests, you will not get far. No one likes that person. She is terrible and unbearable, and you don’t want to be her.
2. ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
I touched on this a bit in number 1, but it’s worth mentioning again. If you don't ask for what you want, you likely (or definitely) will not get it. It doesn't matter how kind you are or how grateful you seem. You won't reach the top of the mountain if you hang around the bottom letting everyone else pass you by. Even if you are the friendliest person at base camp, in order to get anywhere, YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY CLIMB THAT THING. And usually, this means asking for what you want. People aren't out there handing out promotions or other amazing opportunities on the street corner. In my career, there haven't been many things straight up given to me. I've had to muster up that courage and ask for it. Do you want to work from home one day? Work fewer hours? Change positions within your organization? Ask! I’m not saying you should march into your boss’s office and demand to be given all the things, or that it will always pan out; however, if you don’t ask, I can promise you more often than not, you're going to be left wondering 'what if...'
3. LISTEN & ACCEPT FEEDBACK
Listen to the input of others. Listen to their feedback. Take the nos with the yeses. Soak it all in, but most importantly, listen to the whisper inside you telling you to go for the big ones.