All of us have fears – so what makes you afraid? Public speaking, cancer, rejection, or failure. Most people spend to much time worrying about what might happen to us instead of opportunities that come from takings risks. We repeatedly hear the important trait of entrepreneurs taking on risk and conquering their fears but that applies to any profession and life in general. Fear is a natural response that is not bad and makes us think twice before jumping off a 200-foot cliff — sorry cliff divers. But, fear is also the thing that holds people back in their professional and personal lives too often. Be honest to yourself and ask if you are the person that does not volunteer for that new high-profile project that is starting because you would have to learn a new skill as part of it and are worried you won’t be able to do so? Or, are you the person that has a lot of unspoken ideas because you are too afraid to speak up in front of the group because you are afraid that people will think your ideas are stupid?
Instead of giving into fear recognize it for what it is a basic chemical reaction and think about the upside versus the downside of fear when it creeps up. If you don’t take that project and as part of it learn a new skill you will not fail at it but if you take it and fail you have more skills and are looked at for taking initiative. If you do not speak up in the meeting or bring a new idea forward you will certainly avoid that slim chance that your idea would be discounted but it guarantees that your idea will not be considered. If you find a way to automate some part or all of your job think awesome you may will get to learn something else.
Remember that fear is natural and primeval and is part of our fight-or-flight response that is meant to keep us safe in a world where things would kill us. As information workers there are no bears or tigers in our office, conference room, or cubicle so use fear as a signal to motivate and act. Overcoming a fear can be one of the most rewarding things we experience. And, if we combine this rewarding experience with making us more successful in your job then it becomes a double bonus.
One thing I have found helpful is identify fears and pick something where a fear is holding me back and put together a plan to overcome it. This blog is partly motivated driven to overcome a fear and certainly feel good about doing it.
Next time you feel fear at work, fear the fear itself and then embrace the challenge and follow what it is really saying — it is time to act, volunteer, or speak!
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