By Elena Lipson 

Recently, I was a guest on a podcast and the host asked me about my earliest childhood memory. It was from when I was about 2 years old. I just hated going to bed. I would stand in my crib and I had a nightly routine my parents had to follow: read me a book, sing me a song and count to 60. Repeat. Sometimes I would turn it into a negotiation and try to get even more out of them and stay up later. I was a real pain, and now, more than 35 years later, I’m not sure much has changed.

I still don’t like to follow the rules. I’m a night owl and I believe most things in life are negotiable. Fortunately, I’ve been able to leverage these traits in a positive way in my career. I did things differently than other people.

The outcome?

  • I delivered results that helped distinguish me from my peers.
  • I had creative bursts late at night when others were watching TV, out partying or going to bed early.
  • I was paid well because I knew my value and I asked for what I wanted.

There was no roadmap for much of what I’ve done in my career. I created the rules, I didn’t just follow them.

This is something I instill in the women I coach.

Last week, a client told me what she really wanted: a promotion and a 4-day work week so she could spend more time with her family. While the desire made perfect sense to her, she thought asking for this would be ridiculous. Who gets promoted AND is allowed to work less afterwards?!

But I challenged her to think about it differently:

  • Why can’t you do this?
  • How do you know they will say no?
  • Maybe no one else has ever asked for this…
  • No one else brings your unique mix of talents, institutional knowledge and results to the organization.
  • What’s the worst that can happen if you ask?
  • How could this arrangement also benefit the organization?

By the end of our call, she was thinking that maybe asking for this wasn’t so crazy after all. That’s one of the breakthroughs I help women achieve – the ability to see possibility and opportunity where you may not have recognized it before.

You don’t have to accept the hand you’re dealt or do things the way everyone else has always done them. If you do, you can expect to get the same results as everyone else, and who wants to be just like everyone else?

You can make your own rules and sometimes you have to in order to create the life you want. If you’re interested in learning more about how this works, let’s talk. I invite you to contact me to see if working with me is a good fit for you. Can’t wait to chat!

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Originally published at