Fear and Your Career: How to Use It and How to Lose It
Fear is one of six thousand emotions, but unlike many emotions, it is typically a learned reaction. When we are born, we only fear falling and loud noises. While many learned fears help with our survival, such as not touching fire, others only hinder us in our lives and careers. We can overcome these learned fears simply by recognizing our fears, shifting our thinking, and seeking help when we need it.
How to Use It
Fear can be a great catalyst to success. A client of mine, who is in the commercial real estate development business, uses fear to his advantage. There is lots of money at risk, and there are multiple players involved. The fear of overlooking a deal’s details really motivates him to do his best, to do the extra work necessary, to double check everything. He manages to step through his fears and uses it to educate himself and work diligently to be thoughtful and accurate.
When you want to advance in your career, fear can help you move. Employees that fear demotion or losing their job are motivated to get additional training or to work harder. The fear of losing a client for an entrepreneur can lead them to go beyond the expectations of the client. They might even find a new service, a new discovery, a new creation to add to their practice. Always recognize fear, and allow it to motivate you rather than freeze you in your tracks.
How to Lose It
It does not matter that you are scared; fear is mostly imagined scenarios that have no basis on reality (eg: what if I blow the interview?) Uncertainty is the biggest culprit of fear and can often lead to procrastination. So when you find yourself “stuck”, just do anything to take a step forward: pick up a book, speak with a friend, read over your notes on the subject. Jump right into your fears. Once you make that first step forward, you will be on your way to breaking through that fear while gathering more information.
Have faith in yourself. You are more equipped than you think you are. By being in a state of fear, you are giving yourself permission to stay where you are. It is all about saying, “Alright, I know I can do this.” Break it down. What is it that you fear? What is the worst thing that could happen? What is the best thing that can happen? Now give power to the possibilities that you want; give power to the best things that might happenrather than the fear that you hold. Just by shifting your focus slightly and giving the energy to that positive information, it can really move you through the fear. Play mind games with yourself by daydreaming about those positive possibilities, the money you want in your checking account, the new job, or the client you are going to meet at an event. Focusing on the worst-case scenario can only hinder you.
Most importantly, do not hesitate to seek help. Talk with your friends and family. Train by practicing or watching other people who appear confident. If you really need help getting over your fear, hire a professional coach. Many professionals, including myself, have hired a professional speaking coach to improve public speaking skills; this is a great investment in your career. Recognize that moving through fear to advance your career begins with a decision that you want to adjust your subconscious thermostat so you can have more of what you do want instead of what you do not want. If you need help, a coach might be exactly what you need to nudge you forward.
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