How to work without fear

How to Work Without Fear

Someone once told me, “Many people don’t work to succeed. Rather, they work not to fail.”


What he meant is that many employees play it safe. They are terrified of making mistakes and being criticized by their bosses. So they do the bare minimum in their jobs and keep their mouths shut. However, they stunt their professional growth and limit their career enhancement.


In contrast, “working to succeed” means taking initiative and delivering more than expected. They tackle their jobs with passion. They welcome new assignments as opportunities to stretch and flourish. When their boss gives them a “sermon,” they don’t take it personally. Rather they consider this as valuable feedback to learn the ropes and, more importantly, learn how to improve themselves.
What makes the difference between “working not to fail” versus “working to succeed”?


One basic reason is that the former is dominated by fear. Specifically, fear of failure.

Based on personal experience and those of others, I can tell you that working out of fear is a terrible way to live. It makes one dread to get up in the morning, sucks the gusto at the workplace and kills rapport with co-workers.


I think it is normal to be afraid of failing, especially if those blunders can cost the company lots of money and time. But there is a healthy fear which acknowledges the risk of failure and takes steps to minimize the risk. Beyond that is a pathological fear that paralyzes one from doing anything at all.


The antidote to fear of failure is thorough preparation. We do our homework, ask a lot of questions, clarify our objectives, double or triple check our data, and challenge our assumptions.


One more thing: most people neglect the valuable resource of seasoned and trustworthy mentors who can alert you of what mistakes to avoid. They will share things you won’t learn from books and guide you on how to maximize your chances of success.


Let’s face it: nobody really knows everything, let alone absorbing them all at once. It takes humility, curiosity, resourcefulness, initiative and, most of all, time to learn.

May you work out of courage and no longer with a twinge of fear.

Photo credit from Knowledge@Wharton

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