Is fear of failure keeping you from making a career change?

You’re not alone

Have you ever wanted to make a big life change, but you didn’t because you felt afraid? Maybe you were afraid you would fail. Or afraid that you weren’t perfect for that, just yet. Or maybe you were afraid you weren’t good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough.

I had landed at a cross road in my career where I was considering two different paths. One really excited me and the other not so much. I was head down, bum up working diligently in my office one day when a familiar face walked in of a leader who I really admired. His style, his coaching, his authenticity. He sat down at my desk, looking at me very intently.

His next few words sent me buzzing with excitement. He offered me a role as the coach and trainer for the sales team. This was the exact path that I was hoping for. I had worked hard to get this and my internal cheerleader was going off! The idea of coaching people energised and excited me. From a young age, whether I was coaching at work, in sport or even coaching my friends, I loved to coach. I was doing cartwheels on the inside.

But that elation soon turned to fear and anxiety. He started talking to me about the role I would play as a trainer of the sales team. He talked through a ‘day in the life’, as he called it. I heard only some of the words that he spoke – standing out in front, large groups, be front and centre – these were words that I associated with my worst nightmare.

The mere thought of standing in front of room filled with people having all of their eyes glaring at me, expecting me to know all of the answers, to teach them without stumbling over my words…argh, I felt like I was going to throw up!

My mind wandered back to when I was a young university student. Times when I had a presentation. These were the occasions I would dread. Sleepless nights leading up to the presentation were the norm. Followed by nausea, sweaty palms and trembling hands. And not to mention the thoughts in my head. They were so controlling. What will people think of me? I’m going to forget everything? This will be terrible? I am the worst presenter?….please ground just swallow me up now!

My mind returned to the room and then to our present day conversation, just in time for him to congratulate me on this fantastic opportunity. Unfortunately for me, the excitement and joy was suffocated by fear and anxiety.

Once I was able to get myself out of the fetal position, I did 3 key things:

Firstly, reminded myself why this was the right thing for me

This role would take me exactly on the career path I wanted. I would:

  • Have a leader who was amazing
  • Receive exponential professional growth
  • Be able to use my skills, knowledge and experience to help others grow and develop
  • Build my confidence
  • Grow resilience
  • Be a role model to other women (I worked in a male dominated environment, with no female leaders)
  • Have a positive impact on a whole function of our business

The reasons why were so much greater and more emotive then the reasons why not. They gave me motivation and I felt driven to overcome any fear to be able to have these outcomes in my life

Then, leaned into the fear and discomfort

Rather than moving away from the fear and freaking out, I thought about how I could lean into it, with a little discomfort rather than feel excruciating vulnerability. I thought about a staged approach that I could take, to make ‘baby steps’ outside of my comfort zone. I considered what support structures I could set up to support me, so that I didn’t feel alone. And how my new leader could support me. Gradually I was feeling a sense of confidence and self belief.

And third, created some power thoughts

I wrote myself some new thoughts, of how I wanted to be and feel. I took the approach, fake it till you make it! I created some positive affirmations. I can still recall some of them – I am calm and confident in all situations, I make a positive impact everyday.

I used these 3 keys to help me be successful in that role, and I continue to use them today. Who would have thought more than ten years on, that I would now be confidently speaking to audiences in seminars, workshops, keynote presentations, and so on, often to hundreds of people. And I get a massive positive rush from these experiences now!

These 3 keys are what I use whenever I have a fear of failure and I also use them with my clients to help them lean into the fear, so that fear doesn’t stop them from achieving their ambitions.

I will leave you with this thought from Nelson Mandela, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”

If you want to learn more about overcoming fear and managing your career, your way, then check out C-School. A program designed to be a pivot point that will take your career to an extraordinary level.

Question: What are you afraid of that’s holding you back from realising your potential? You can leave your comment below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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