A “Can Do” Attitude, or Fake it ‘Til you Make It

December 9, 2010 at 7:30 am | Posted in Career Moves | 10 Comments
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We all get overwhelmed sometimes.  Our “to do” lists, seem never ending and for someone like me, you don’t want to talk to me until I cross a few things off.  But when it comes to your personal “to do” list, you only have to answer to you.  Most people have to report to someone when it comes to their work “to do” list.

My company has been working hard to define our job descriptions to ensure we are meeting the needs of the organization.  It’s a work in progress, so flexibility is a must.  So that’s why I was caught off guard when I asked one of my colleagues if she wanted to talk to her supervisor about taking on a project that I knew was in her job description and she said no.  No? What do you mean no?

Now, let me back up for a second because I’m sure some of you are wondering why I would be making this suggestion to a colleague.  No, she doesn’t report to me, which is why I kindly asked her to talk to her supervisor about it, because I knew it was something that needed to be done and it was her supervisor’s job to help her manage her workload.  But I happen to know that this particular project has historically had no coordination and she was hired specifically for projects such as this one.  For the greater good of the organization, I wanted to ensure there was a process in place for this project.

So back to this strange answer “no.”  Firstly, she didn’t say “no” flat out. She gave me some long excuse about her other work and how she didn’t feel she had the capacity for this project (the project doesn’t demand much attention right now, but it will demand some, come Spring).  Whatever the case, she basically wouldn’t take the assignment and I was dumbfounded.

I don’t think I have ever said no to a project that was within my scope of work. I’ve said, “it’s on my list, but not a priority,” but never no.  It’s actually this “can do” attitude that has gotten me as far as I am in my career.

It’s not that I know how to do everything.  I have taken on many projects where I actually didn’t know how to do the assignment (not how to go about it, literally didn’t have the skills in place to do it).  Did I know how to do simple animation before my old company required it?  Did I have any design skills prior to my first job?  Had I ever built a web site from scratch before a client needed it?  Could I write a one page document on just a few sentences of information?  I said yes to these projects time and time again knowing that I’d be able to use critical thinking skills to figure out the answers. It was my own personal professional development.

You don’t ever have to stop learning, but if you say no in the work place, people won’t come back to you because they will feel like they cannot rely on you. Not a reputation you want in the workplace.

I always try to follow this advice: you gotta fake it until you make it.  If you don’t challenge yourself, then don’t expect to progress in your career.  Unless of course you are satisfied with status quo.  I know I’m not.


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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Radio Morillo, Pushing Thirtyy. Pushing Thirtyy said: A "Can Do" Attitude, or Fake it 'Til you Make It: http://wp.me/pSrOi-9z […]

  2. That is bizarre. I don’t think I’ve ever turned down an assigment, either. Sometimes I haven’t done amazingly on them, and often I don’t feel confident enough about my abilities, but stretching yourself is always a challenge that one should take when offered, imo.

    • if you don’t have confidence, that’s when the faking it part comes in. Luckily, you do have a can do attitude. 🙂

  3. O grreat.. I am with you.I have been doing this from a long time. Many a times making others assured of what your capability of a job which is the next level for you, is and i make them comfortable with a statement that i can do it.. 🙂 and i have reasonably good so far and have never turned down things which i had participated…

    Appreciate you brought up this topic… you are on my blog list now..:) Smile.

    • awesome! Thanks, I’ll be sure to check you out, too.

  4. I completely agree! in fact, that’s what i’ve been thinking about all week. got a new assignment for three stories that i had no idea how to approach – but after pulling out some hair, it all turned out. just got my contract renewed with that client! one of the best things in life is to be able to surprise yourself 🙂

    • if I could, I’d “like” this comment 🙂

  5. […] Dana at Pushing Thirtyy wonders why anyone would turn down work that’s part of their job. […]

  6. I would like to be able to say that I agree with you. However, you may have over stepped your bounds by asking a colleague to perform a task or start a project. That is the job of her supervisor. Regardless of your good intentions you can be labled as a meddler, or worse, as someone trying to usurp the role of the supervisor. Your “can do” attitude is admirable and has worked well for you thus far. If you expect all of your co-workers to have the same attitude you will be sorely disappointed during your career. If the system is working the slackers will be weeded out. Let that positive attitude help you to work your way up the ladder to the coveted position of supervisor. Only then will you have the right to ask someone on your team to start a project or perform a task that falls within the scope of their job description. Understand that I’m telling you this out of my love and respect for you. I know from many, many years of experience how frustrating a co-worker can be when s/he does not exhibit a work ethic consistant with the mission of the organization or the best interest of the individuals within the organization.

    • Thanks Aunt Bobbee. I do respect your opinion and certainly get your point. That was why I had asked this woman to talk to her supervisor about it. The way it went down was more of it, “this needs to be done. A bunch of us recognize this. Who does it go to?” Her supervisor eventually did get involved and agreed with whose responsibility it was.

      While I am not her supervisor, we are all part of the same team. I know there will always be weak links, but I believe that people should be held responsible for completing the tasks they are paid to complete. It was something she didn’t know was part of her job and I was simply making her aware. It’s not something I make a habit of, but sometimes you just have to help your colleagues understand their new jobs to serve the bigger picture.

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