What is it that really holds people back from jumping into the big blue sea of opportunity? The answer: They live in haunted houses and tell themselves ghost stories—metaphorically that is.
Fear is the root of insecurity in a career. With a fear-based perspective, everything gets interpreted through an ominous lens. It’s only a matter of time before a bad fate will occur. Most of the time, the fear is our own creation—a ghost story we tell ourselves. What is one to do?
The key is working with, embracing, and welcoming fear. This is not easy, but there’s wisdom to be gleaned from this endeavor. We can choose to learn from fear rather than be shut down by it. We can then take decisive action rather than freezing up. Embracing and learning from fear helps to release the fear and leaves us with insight. Here’s how to learn from fear:
1. Admit the fear: Acknowledge your fear, tell the truth about it, and be real. This is a huge first step and goes a long way to releasing the fear.
2. Own it: Take responsibility for your fear and own it as yours, not anyone else’s. There is often a tendency to blame others for doing or saying things that “scare” us. That is simply not so. Only we have the power to make ourselves scared. In owning this emotion, we take back the responsibility and the power of the fear. We remember that the fear exists within us, and we can change it.
3. Welcome the fear: Allow yourself to fully feel the fear, not just think about it or talk about it. Live it—stay with it.
4. Ask the fear, “What are you trying to teach me?” Sit with the fear and listen. Be open; there is wisdom here.
5. Accept the wisdom you glean and be thankful for it. You will experience a sense of release and have new insight for moving forward.
This is not an easy process. However, you can become more adept at it and more adroit at gleaning wisdom from fear. You may repeat this welcoming of fear as often as you need to. The lasting benefit to this process is an increased sense of capability and security. These benefits will drive a career forward.
Joe Abel, CPCC, ACC, PhD, is HFMA’s director of career strategies. He is certified as a professional career coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Coaches Training Institute (CTI).