14. A rewarding habit to acquire.

Yesterday morning shortly after I arrived at the office, the phone rang. It was Harriet. She was calling to say “Thank you.”

I don’t know Harriet. We have never spoken before but she had felt the need to call and share with me an interesting story.

It seems Harriet has been following this blog since its inception and had found last week’s story to be of great personal interest.

Harriet has been employed by a small, privately owned company for the past eight years and as much a she loves her job, she has long felt that her compensation did not match her contribution.

She had been contemplating asking her boss for a raise and had been working up the courage to do so.

Her reluctance in pursuing that particular conversation had been heightened recently after she witnessed her boss turn down a co-workers request for an increase in pay because of the tight economy, company austerity program, yada, yada, yada.

Harriet took last week’s blog to heart. She decided she was going to go ahead and ask for the raise. But first, she was going to make sure she was as prepared and rehearsed as possible.

Last Friday evening was spent writing a script. She and her husband sat at their kitchen table and crafted her pitch with the same focus and deliberation that goes into writing a play for Broadway.

She wrote of the immense value she brings to the company each day and highlighted her worth as an irreplaceable asset.

She did her best to anticipate how her boss would react to each of her statements and prepared powerful responses to his objections.

For each point she expected him to raise in opposition to her request, she prepared a compelling counterpoint.

And then she began rehearsing. In her mind this meeting was to be a drama with two main actors. She, of course, played herself and her husband played the role of her boss.

The rehearsals continued throughout most of the weekend and each time they practiced, her delivery improved and her confidence grew.

By her estimate they role-played this meeting more than 30 times and by the time she left for work on Monday she was excited at the prospect of presenting her case to her boss.

She asked him if they could meet later that day and they scheduled the time for 2 PM.

She described going into his office and sitting down as if the curtain was going up for opening night.

She launched into the script and stayed intensity focused throughout the conversation.

She laughingly told me that because she had invested so much time rehearsing, she knew exactly how to conduct herself and what to say, whereas her boss, having never rehearsed his lines, seemed at a loss for words.

It was no contest.

Harriet made one slight change to the script during the presentation. She increased the amount of the raise she was seeking by an additional ten percent.

She got it, and became an instant convert to the Habit of Constantly Doing Better.

She told me she has learned an invaluable lesson: The more we practice, the better we get and the more prepared we are, the less we are likely to face unexpected surprises.

 She asked me to “Please share my story, but don’t use my real name. Call me Harriet.”

She thanked me again and hung up.

I once heard that luck is the result of preparation meeting opportunity. Harriet’s story proves the truthfulness of that statement.

I do think I deserve to share in her new wealth.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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