A while ago a friend was telling me about a situation at work where she felt threatened in a corner, with big responsibilities, an unresponsive boss and pressing deadlines. The project in her hands was in a critical phase, action was needed but with the lack of direction and support, she was fearing to get blamed for a potential failure of the project.
Sounds familiar? I can identify myself in a similar situation.
Especially for young (ish), passionate, driven career-ladder climbers that’s a common situation. We want to prove ourselves and at the same time learn and improve our knowledge and skills. We don’t have decades of experiences to rely on nor the self-esteem to trust that no matter what, we’ll be alright. We need our job for multiple reasons – to pay back bank loans, support family, to live. And equally we need our job for career guidance, for learning more and for testing out our ideas and passions. We have something to give, we want to change the world, we want to become something. But what if we fail? What if we get fired?
My first job in the field I was actually interested in and passionate about, I was so scared of failing that I kept working long hours, over the weekends, trying to please the bosses and prove my dedication over and over. I worked hard because I believed in the cause but also because I was afraid of getting fired. Until one day I realized that my fear was holding me back. I was trying to predict what the bosses wanted and say and do what would please them. Focusing on that, I was wasting my energy and losing focus from thinking what actually should be done. Until one day I made an intentional decision to stop worrying about getting fired, stop working to please my boss but focus on what I thought would be the right things to do. I started trusting myself, using my knowledge and experiences and my gut feeling and my passion, to achieve what I had set myself up for.
Once I had shaken off that fear of getting fired off my shoulders, and laid trust on my capabilities, I got much more successful at work. I had more energy towards the tasks at hand, was more relaxed and started sincerely enjoying my job.
My friend told me the same thing. She decided not to worry about potentially getting fired but rather doing her best.
Fear is not a good motivator. Last minute panic might at times work but fear doesn’t. Fear holds as back, keeps us from giving our best shot, using our full potential. It’s not easy to let go of it but it’s worth trying. Because it pays off. In relationships, at work, in life – fear should not be let determine our actions. If we do, we’ll never realize our full potential, find out what could have been.