You are free to make the choices you want. You can choose a safe and easy path which will yield average success and that may be fine. Or you can choose a less traveled path. It is filled with uncertainty but the rewards will be greater. Along this less traveled path you will grow and become stronger. What will it take for you to choose the less traveled path?
I was recently coaching a Westchester County NY business executive. She wants to advance in her career. She has been working hard but playing it safe and wondering when she is going to get her “turn.” She said she was waiting for the right time. What is the right time?
Another way to describe the right time is what I would call “Getting ready to go to work”. For example, “I still don’t have my resume, my presentation, or my 2 sharpened number 2 pencils”—you get the idea! Many times people want to do great things but they never follow through. Why? One possible answer is that the rewards aren’t sufficient enough to motivate them into action. Another probable answer is procrastination has derailed or stalled them. The inability to act can often be traced to fear, doubt, or the absence of a clear picture of the potential rewards and consequences.
Some of these fears include:
Fear of criticism, rejection, or exposure: The need for social acceptance will result in going to great lengths to adopt a mode of dress or a certain type of behavior because of fear of criticism and rejection of others. Fear of having an idea rejected continues to lose billions of dollars for American business.
Fear of the unknown: The need for security and safety causes us to be fearful in those situations in which we’re not sure what is going to happen. Our fear of what might or might not happen can cause us to keep from doing those things we should do to bring us closer to our goals. One key to addressing fear of the unknown is examining the possibilities and then weighing them against doing nothing.
Fear of failure: Whether it’s the president who’s afraid to make a change in structure or the manager who is afraid to develop a more competent, self-directed team, or an individual considering a business of their own, fear can be a major deterrent to success. If you promote a risk avoidance mentality growth then the entire goal setting process can be stifled. If mistakes are met with criticism and/or punishment, people will be inclined to do only what they know how to do. It will inhibit creativity and improvement. By not trying, people frequently ensure failure—the very thing that they’re trying to avoid. Fear of failure has blinded many people from seeing opportunities.
It is important to remember that failure is important to success if it is viewed as an opportunity to learn. To change failure from a negative experience to a positive phenomenon, eliminate those conditions which contribute to fear of failure.
This executive has faced up to her fear. She now understands that failure is part of learning. Just do something. What’s keeping you from succeeding?