As I travel around the country speaking with professional women, I am met with a universal sense of fear; fear of failure, fear of success, fear of fitting in, and fear of taking the next step.
Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don’t like them. – Stacy London
It’s time we put aside our fear of failure and the other career blocks keeping us from our best life and find a way to persevere.
Flexing Your Risk Muscle
Applying for a new position or taking on a new project can be daunting, but remember; your past performance is an indicator of your future success. You just have to flex your “risk muscle.” I’ve written and speak a lot about your risk muscle and invite you to read Flex Your Risk Muscle when Setting Career Goals.
Fear of Success
In the meantime, if you are experiencing a sense of fear when it comes to your career, you need to identify what exactly you are afraid of. In the Forbes article 6 Ways to Conquer Fears of Career Change, business & work coach Patricia DiVecchio, author of Evolutionary Work: Unleashing Your Potential in Extraordinary Times(Pearhouse Press), and president of International Purpose, was interviewed for her thoughts on career fear.
DiVecchio addresses Fear of Success:
Getting what we want most in life can be scary. There’s a huge responsibility to success. You have to keep it up and stay successful. Then too, success means change and often transformation. Our mindsets are typically based on the past and how things have always been. So if we are looking at changing our career, or looking at moving into a business it’s difficult to comprehend, again, the unknown…One way to get a handle on this is to write down what emotions you feel when you start to visualize your new work life.
Is your fear of success really just a fear of change or a fear of the unknowns. Consider the worst case scenario. Is that something you can survive? Remember that as you consider the next steps in your career, it is important to surround yourself with those who can advise and encourage your progress. Do you have a cheerleading section?
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela
Fear of Getting Stuck
In the Success.com article offering 5 Ways to Overcome Your Career Fears, one of those that I hear a lot from women in business is the fear of being stuck in their current position. They aren’t quite sure how to become visible enough to decision makers within their company to be considered for new projects or new opportunities.
Author Susan Foster says this:
“We all want to feel we can move up in a company and be rewarded. Knowing it’s in our power to influence that will help alleviate this fear.
Ask yourself: What does my boss’s boss want and need? What is that person’s biggest challenge? How can I make my boss look good in that person’s eyes? What can I contribute in skills, expertise and results?”
Fear of Not Being Good Enough
Finally, the fear of not being good enough speaks to the inner voices we allow to dictate our direction. We need to work hard to quiet the negativity that can hold us back and recognize the value we bring to everything we do. Matt Brubaker and Foster Mobley address career fears in their HBR article, Don’t Let Your Inner Fears Limit Your Career Opportunities. About the fear of not being good enough, they have this to say:
Fear of not being good enough. Those with this fear tend to be insecure, intensely focused on their image, and desperate to prove their worth. This may come at a cost to their authenticity, not to mention their capacity for joy. What’s more, because their core motivations relate to how they are seen by others, they tend to fudge facts.
Harsh words and if we realized that our fears of insecurity were impacting how we were viewed by the rest of the company, we’d be appalled.
Our self-doubt or unnecessary modesty does more harm to our career future than standing up for what you know you are capable and showing confidence. The HBR article follows the story of one professional woman with the fear of not being good enough and what she did to overcome and eventually achieve greatness. I invite you to read the full story, Don’t Let your Inner Fear Limit Your Career.
In the meantime…
- Recognize your fears
- Read up on ways to overcome them
- Be prepared
- Build a supportive network
- Flex your risk muscle
Remember: You can do this! Go for it.
- How to Deal with the Negative Attitudes that Threaten Your Career
- Career Advancement: Branding For Your Future
- Are You Still Seeking Learning Opportunities in Your Career?
JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
Don’t miss our online resources library for eCourses, online discussions, downloads, retreats and tools for professional women. Learn more here.