Here’s a career tip designed to move you towards a positive mindset and away from a fearful mindset.
Imagine that a co-worker says to you, ”Did you hear the news? Diane just left her high-visibility role and now the job is open. You should go for it.”
What comes into your mind when you are in such a situation? Are you excited for the opportunity and immediately planning your strategy, or do fears and doubts flood your mind?
• What if they laugh at my audacity?
• Will I make myself vulnerable by admitting I hate my current job?
• The CEO never liked me.
• They’re going to give it to Bill. He doesn’t have the skills, but he talks a great game.
These are examples of self-defeating, fear-based thinking.
The alternative is to be honest about what you really want, and to feed your desire until it completely dwarfs your fears. I did this early in my career while working at WGBH/Boston, a leading public television station. You can hear me tell the story in this video, or just keep reading…
I had a low-level job in the Development office, but for some reason I formed a burning desire to be one of the hosts of the annual Channel 2 Auction, a seven-day live television event. It took place in a huge studio with four cameras operating non-stop. Local celebrities and executives would constantly participate, coming in to auction off donated goods.
So at age 24, with no obvious qualifications or status, I started pestering anyone who sounded like he or she had the ability to give me a hosting slot.
After a while, I managed to become an auctioneer, filling in when a guest didn’t show up. The second year, I actually got a couple of hosting segments during the slowest time periods.
But the third year, I hosted the last night of the Auction, when viewership is highest. This was the slot the station’s President typically took, but he gave it to me.
Looking back, I should have been terrified. Live television leaves no room for errors, and it was no easy task to walk across a studio talking to a TV audience with no rehearsal or notes, other than a card with the name of the next guest.
But for whatever reason, my desire to do this was overwhelming. I thought only about how much fun it would be to be a host… and it was! As host of the Auction, I immediately leapt from junior Development coordinator to the host of WGBH.
To succeed, focus on the left side, not the right.
Forget about your fear…
We all have fears, and they will never go away completely.
But once you understand this simple equation, it becomes obvious that you have a choice: focus on your desire, or focus on your fear.
Focusing on your fear is paralyzing. It won’t make things better, and will only make them worse.
But focusing on your desire has two benefits. First, it is empowering and motivating. It gets you to act in a positive manner. Second, it distracts you from your fear. The more you visualize that which you desire, the less power your fears have over you.