True freedom can only come from doing things differently.
Elizabeth just gave notice at her dysfunctional job. The company is tanking – checks are bouncing. She’s been invited to join an international start-up. It’s an exciting proposition and she’s so right for it. Yet, in her words, she’s “scared shitless!”
I know Elizabeth and so I’m not surprised with her reaction, BUT, still, I asked her, “Why the fear? The handwriting has been spray painted on the walls of your current job. What do you have to lose? Even if the venture bombs, what’s the worst that can happen? You get another job.”
She said, “I know” in the tone of voice used by a child who doesn’t want to admit that the other person is making sense. It’s almost as though she feels that she “should” feel afraid and that it would be wrong to feel excited.
Her fear is simply running on automatic pilot.
She knows this new venture is a great opportunity. She knows she has a steep learning curve and she knows she’s up to the challenge. Knowing all that, why not be excited?
She admitted, “It doesn’t feel right to get excited.” Huh? Where does this belief come from? Yes, family mantra comes into play AND it also comes from years of believing that professional satisfaction is too risky because it can’t last. Therefore, so goes the reasoning, why enjoy the satisfaction of meaningful work?
Her satisfaction may not last. And that’s okay. Just because satisfaction may not last, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the moment, can’t enjoy the adventure.
A new opportunity has presented itself. Is it not ingrateful to refuse to give thanks and embrace the opportunity?
Come to the edge, he said.
They said, we are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
He pushed them – and they flew.
Gerry is a VP who has worked at her current position for five years. During that time she was a major player in helping to secure $40 million in new business from just one client. Her bonus this year was less than $5000 – essentially a Starbucks gift card! Sam, her boss, is mercurial – one day praising her at a company-wide meeting and the next chastising her in front of external customers. Throwing people emotionally off-balance is a sport for Sam.
Gerry’s being wooed by a start-up whose founders recognize what she can bring to their team. They treat her with respect and professionalism. They have now point blank asked her, “What will it take to get you to join us?” Gerry’s afraid to name what she needs and wants.
She has paralyzed herself by focusing on how this is a big risk and by indulging feeling guilty because the company gave her a decent job for the past five years. Yet, last week Sam rejected a suggestion she offered to improve internal communications on a particular aspect of a critical project. He snapped that he was in charge and didn’t need her input.
Phantom guilt can have a powerful hold on a person. As distasteful as it sounds, Gerry has been in an abusive relationship with her boss – and so she spends her energy concocting reasons why she shouldn’t leave them.
A sampling of Gerry’s self-inflicted paralyzing questions (with my answers!):
“Am I worthy of this new opportunity?” Gerry is accomplished, talented and is bolstered with the gracious strength of her emotional intelligence. I’d say that makes her “worthy.”
“I don’t think I’m as good as they think I am.” Classic fraud syndrome. Most of us are “frauds”!
“What if I tell them what I want and they say ‘NO’?” Hmm – it’s called “negotiation” for a reason.
“But maybe Sam will change?” Perhaps, BUT I doubt it as he has given no indication that he desires to become a more effective, emotionally intelligent leader.
“I guess I have the right to reach for my dream job, yes?” YES!
I asked Gerry a question of my own, “What would you tell your daughter if she was dating a man who treated her the way your boss treats you?” She quickly said that she’d urge her to break up with him.
So then the question remaining is, “Why wouldn’t you give your self the same advice you’d give your own daughter?”
It is a psychological and spiritual principle that when we draw to the “light,” the forces of “dark” do what they can to sabotage us. It is inevitable. What is not inevitable is our succumbing to our dark thoughts.
Fear is fine, normal and to be expected. Feel it and then once our eyes and minds and hearts have been opened choose against it. Embrace the desire, the goal, the plan.
10 Things To Grapple With As You Demolish Paralyzing Fear
1. Do you feel on edge at work? If so then Remember – that’s not the feeling you deserve to have, even though so many of us have it that it’s now considered “normal.”
2. What does your dream job look like?
3. How do you look in that job?
4. How close to reality can you get to your dream job?
5. What are the risks of the new job? If the worst happened, could you recoup?
6. If you don’t pursue new work, what would you have to do to stay in your current job?
7. Can you do what’s needed to stay in your current job?
8. Are your doubts helping you gain clarity or simply making you feel confused? Then why pay attention to them?
9. Rephrase a question such as, “Am I worthy?” to “What do I bring to this new venture?” Rephrase a question such as, “Am I a fraud?” to “How long will it take me to acquire the skills I’m lacking?”
10. Recognize that most situations are not black/white. There are options within options. Play with options!