Photo Credit: Airik Lopez, Creative Commons/Flickr

When I am facing a challenge or am nervous about taking action on something, I repeat the following phrase: A closed mouth won’t get fed. I picked up the phrase in college when I needed a favor from a fellow barista and was beating around the bush. He blurted out, “Allison, a closed mouth won’t get fed. What do you need?”

Oddly enough, my inability to speak up has been a problem all of my life. In elementary school, teachers would write about how smart I was, if only I would talk more. At work, my bosses would encourage me to share my ideas more once they discovered something I was toiling away on in a corner somewhere.

To be honest, I’ve embraced this as part of my INTJ personality; I prefer to work on things on my own, sharing only when near completion or perfection. But this has very clear downsides; sometimes being too quiet can stifle my work as people who need to know or can help aren’t included.

What’s your career motto?

“A closed mouth won’t get fed” has become my career motto.

I see a career motto as a phrase that summarizes your framework for taking action and solving problems in your day-to-day work and as you figure out your larger career focus. It also serves as a reminder to stop doing things that hold you back (or encourage you to do things that often move you forward). My motto reminds me that:

If I don’t ask for help, I won’t get any.
If I don’t talk about my accomplishments, I won’t get noticed.
If I don’t ask questions, I won’t produce great results.

If I am silent, my career will stall.

What’s your career motto?