By Rose Miller
Fear can be dangerous. It can turn into a mindset in which things aren’t questioned and mindless obedience to authority becomes the norm. In fact, most of the advice we hear in the business, whether from the employer or employee perspective, is based in fear.
There is fear in firing bad employees. Fear in making the wrong business decision. Fear in standing up to a miserable boss. Fear in standing up for what you believe in. Fear of others we don’t understand. The list goes on and on. Fear ends up ruining everything.
When your choices are based on these fears, the outcomes are rarely optimal. We see employers, who suffer a horrible employee because they are not sure how and when it is safe to terminate. Work doesn’t get done, better employees become stressed and the employer is seen as ineffective at managing their company. Still the employer fears a lawsuit or fears the hole left after the employee is gone.
Conversely, many employees complain of being intimidated and bullied by managers. Managers and supervisors often abuse their power through petty harassment or worse. Subordinates, even if they’re assertive and intelligent people, often behave submissively in the face of horrible bosses.
Many times, we are faced with business choices that don’t align with our personal values. I had a boss one time who wanted to “fix” the revenues because projections were so off. I had two choices: comply or resist. I’ve never regretted standing up for the choice that made personal sense to me- that was not to comply with his request.
Fear of others can lead to distrust and conflict. Some people gain power by masking fear with protection. We all fear terrorism but that fear should not mean we turn our backs on peace and freedom.
Without fear, we all have the potential to achieve great things that can elevate everyone around us. When we lead with the model of possibility, we are able to question things and feel empowered. The opposite of fear is confidence.
So how to do we build our confidence and chase off that fearful voice inside our heads? Here are a couple of tips that were told to me by some fearless folks:
1. Take a chance. You start with something small. Maybe eating at a new restaurant alone or trying a new sport. Whatever it is, make sure it’s outside of your comfort zone. With each success, you can gain the confidence to take larger chances.
2. Meet your fear head on. When I was young, I was afraid to go down to the basement. One day, I made myself walk down the stairs without any light and continued to walk around in the dark, telling myself I could do it and there is nothing to be afraid of. Check one off the list.
3. You don’t know, unless you try. A wise person told me the difference between a winner and a loser is the time frame. What that means is that we should set meaningful goals no matter how high or low. If we don’t achieve those goals in the time we expected, don’t make excuses and give up. Winners give themselves more time. They never, ever stop trying to achieve the goal.
4. Seek new opportunities. Say “yes” when you’re inclined to say “no”. Correcting an action after making a decision is much better than not acting at all. At least you have something to work with. Bad decisions are still decisions. Fear causes paralysis.
5. Realize life is short. How many times have we seen someone never realize their goals personally or professionally by endlessly putting off their plans. Take that trip, start that business, start the family or make that move. Living with regret is almost as bad as living in fear.
So as we fearless face the end of another year, perhaps we can lead into the new year with a little more confidence, renewed enthusiasm and a more positive outlook. Confidence is contagious and attracts more positive people and opportunities. Best wishes for a fearless future.
Miller is the president of Pinnacle Human Resources LLC.