Embracing fear is the key to getting ahead at work
Give fear a chance — because believe it or not, if you take time to embrace this widespread, albeit unpleasant emotion at work, rewards await.
So says Brandon Webb, CEO of media and e-commerce business Hurricane Group and a best-selling author. His “Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide” (Portfolio) is out in August.
Fear of failure is common, whether it concerns giving a presentation, taking on a massive project or accepting a higher post with expectations to match. And yet, “failure is one of the biggest gifts we can have because we learn from it,” says Webb. “Everyone who is successful has failed on their way — it’s a requirement. Change your relationship with failure and the better off you’ll be.”
If a promotion or raise is deserved but you dread asking for it, realize that “if you don’t ask, the one thing that’s certain is you’re never going to get it. To advance your career, you need to say something. Everyone I interviewed for my book has made that a habit. It comes down to making the decision to do it,” says Webb.
Knowledge is power when pushing past fear, says Alison Green, author of “Ask a Manager: How To Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses and the Rest of Your Life at Work” (Ballantine).
“Do as much research as you can before a raise request so you’re not going in blind,” says Green. “If you know the market rate and how it aligns with your work, the better footing you’ll be on.”
Preparing for the possibility of a “no” can help you feel more in control, says Green.
“Turn it into an opportunity,” she says. “Ask what it would take to earn more money in the future. What does the timeline look like? If your boss can’t give you information, it might mean there isn’t a path there for you, so why delay?”
If you’re fearful of being let go, “Put yourself in a position to minimize difficulties to you. Maintain your network, record your accomplishments, do things to build up your reputation,” says Green. “If things fall apart at work, you’ll know what you can contribute and be positioned for a job search. You want options for when or if that time comes.”
When weighing a job shift or career change, often, “It’s always worse in our heads than in actuality,” says Webb. “If you have a certain skill set, you’re going to be valuable. If you leave your job, you’ll probably find another job.”
Dream about going solo, but think it’s too risky? In today’s workplace, Webb says there’s little safety in a 9-to-5 job anyway.
“If you don’t take risks, that’s the risk itself,” says Webb. However, you can reduce that risk by segueing into another role.
“When I started my business, I was working as an executive and began it as a side project,” says Webb. “It got to the point where I started making money, so I could leave. Instead of being gripped by fear, I hedged my risk and set myself up to make my transition easier.”
Here are some practical ways to face your workplace fears:
Watch what you say to yourself
Negative self-talk prevents us from getting past go. Maintain a positive, encouraging mindset, rather than beating yourself up over mistakes or perceived shortcomings.
If you’re giving a presentation, ensure your program is flawless and orderly. Dress in a power suit or something you feel exudes a commanding presence. Preparation is the key.
You are the company you keep
Is your inner circle dragging you down? Don’t surround yourself with office gossips or toxic people. Their negativity can drain your energy. Remember that misery loves company. Instead, seek out encouraging, supportive team members who aim to uplift.
Mind your body language
Good posture and a smile can radiate self-assuredness and positivity, Rather than shrugging, pull your shoulders back to straighten your spine. This minor adjustment can help to attract others and put them at ease.
Check out apps and podcasts for a confidence boost on your own time. Try “The Power of Thought” and “Heroine” podcasts, and the “Pocket Mentor” app, all available on iTunes.
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