April 20, 2012

Career Advice

Distinguish Yourself: Don’t be Afraid to Ask

By: Roger Custer

Don’t be afraid to ask. There is no way that one person can know all the answers, but a person can learn many answers by asking others. Distinguish yourself in the workplace by making a habit of seeking knowledge, feedback, and collaboration with others.

In 1945, Friedrich Hayek wrote his essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” He argues that knowledge is so dispersed among individuals in society that decision-making cannot be done rationally by a central authority. He writes,

“the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess.”

In the workplace, this means that your colleagues have knowledge that will help you make better decisions. Those who have been around the organization for longer than you probably have a better idea of past activity from which they have learned valuable lessons. You won’t know about that until you ask them, and ask the right, specific questions. You can even ask people who no longer work there but have knowledge from previous time there.

When you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to ask for help to fix it. It may be embarrassing to admit your mistake, but the long-term benefit from your humble honesty, and faster repair of the problem, outweighs the temporary discomfort. You will gain respect when you form a pattern of gathering dispersed knowledge from your colleagues, and asking for help when you make mistakes.

In the case of development for nonprofits, don’t be afraid to ask for gifts. When you are passionate about your cause and asking for support, people will respond. Even a “no” should be interpreted as “not now” and you can ask for other help like friend referrals or in-kind gifts.

America’s Future Foundation is here to help you advance your career in the liberty movement, whether that means improving your speaking, writing, organizing, debating, or networking. However, we can’t help you if you don’t ask…