Every couple of years, this question makes the rounds - "What would you tell the 25 year old version of yourself?" I've noticed that going around recently, so here I am.
Of course, there are 1,000's of things you could respond with. But assume we're talking about the world of work for a second. That probably cuts the answers down to the 100's, not 1,000's.
The reality is your response is likely to be focused on what you're experiencing in your career on a given week the question is asked.
So what would I tell the 25-year old version of myself?
It's pretty simple. I'd tell them that you never - and I mean NEVER - say no or deprioritize a request from someone with power and influence over their career.
Let's dig in a little deeper. Let's say you're the younger version of yourself. You're a good to great performer, and people at your company have grown to regard you as someone who can be trusted to get things done. That means over time, people of influence at your company are going to be exposed to you, hear about you, and in many ways come to regard you as someone with potential and whom perhaps is performing above their pay grade.
That means the people of influence at your company are going to come to you with a request to do work. That request may or may not be a part of your normal job. That request may or may not come at a time that's convenient for you. That request may or may not be something you know how to do and it possibly could required you to roll up your sleeves and figure a bunch of shit out.
Yet you've performed, and the request comes.
What happens next is the test.
All of the "may or may not" statements above are the debbie downers about the request. It's not your job, you're kind of busy this week or month, and it's in an area that you're not super interested in.
Let me be crystal clear. All of those things can be true. Average people say they are too busy or attempt to negotiate a later date to get the work/request/project done. True players - the ones who are promotable 2-3 levels above their current organizational level - never say no.
This rule has been true since your grandparents were on the factory floor or creating copies via real carbon copies (look it up).
As we've grown related to better workplaces, mental health and a sense of well-being, you'll read tomes on how to get the best out people through a variety of progressive people practices. You can believe all of the new ways of workplace engagement, but don't be fooled - when the call comes for help from people with influence because they've heard about you, it's test. They don't realize it's a test, but it is.
Say yes to the extra work, the longer hours, the problem to solve - and you've shown yourself to be part of the bigger chase. Say no or try and schedule a later time and you'll never be asked again.
Maybe you don't want to be in the chase - that's OK! Just remember not everyone is asked and few are rarely asked twice once someone hears "I could probably spend some time on that next month."
It's OK to not want to be in chase to the top.
Just remember that that not everyone is asked, and saying no is a long-term choice.