Lately (well, in the last few years) I have continuously come across fear in working life. Everything strange is frightening. Everything that you have not decided yourself is frightening. Everything that you cannot affect is frightening.
For development, fear presents a big problem, as it prevents change. Change is continuous, but is it always good?
Many of us really do want change. The challenge is that the calm waters right now is always nice; you can chill out, not having to do much. With a basic level of performance, you can manage your work and have more energy for your hobbies and home. But: everything changes all the time. If you are not willing to change yourself, you cannot keep up and definitely cannot stay in the forefront. It is better to learn to live with fear.
The good thing is that you can do something to fear. I am privileged, as I have the chance to learn from my colleagues every day how not to fear. However, you really have to want fearlessness because when you start to practise it, you have to fear a little bit every day. Relatively soon you start to understand yourself and your fears, so it is not as hard as it sounds. I warmly recommend exercises like these:
- Every day, do something that you do not want to do. The reluctance is likely caused by fear. (It might be too much to do this every day, but try relatively often.)
- Examine what you did yesterday. When you disagreed / said no to something / objected, was it because you feared change? When you told your colleague truths about what should be done and why, did you lean on old and learned information? Did your colleague have a novel idea that did not fit into the pre-existing pattern? I catch myself doing this all the time. When I have the energy, I take the matter into consideration, discuss it again and in the best case change some of my ways or at least my thinking.
- Suggest a change at least once a week. The change could be made into a process, a way of operating etc. You will surely encounter a need for change quite automatically, so this does not require anything but opening your mouth.
- Subject yourself to uncertainty. Deliver the presentation that you have not prepared for long enough. Tell your best idea of the day to your boss even though you suspect that it may be met with arguments. Before long you will see that your attempts can also succeed. If they do not always succeed, nothing really serious is going to happen. When you realise this, new things will not feel as scary.
- Express your opinion and stand behind it when the moment comes. Your opinion has probably been developed over decades and practised, but you have kept it a secret because it is different. Maybe it is the revolutionary thing that everyone has been waiting for? And even if it is not, you have had the courage to trust yourself when it came to that opinion.
What is the aim of winning your fears and changing? Is change always good? I strongly believe that in most cases it is. As a mental exercise this is easy: would we as humankind be where we are now if we had always done everything the same way?
I will end this with an old saying that I read in the Donald Duck magazine somewhere in the 1980s. However, I understood it only in this millennium and I remind myself of it constantly. ”The only thing to be feared is fear itself.”
About the author
The writer Elina Seppänen has turned nearly every stone in the HR field. Elina thinks that in the best case passion and humanity meet with quality and profit. This article has been previously published in Elina’s LinkedIn profile.