Tomorrow is a big day for work. We are sponsoring a large event, and I am representing my Company there. It’s a newer territory for me, and there will be a lot of people I don’t know at the event. Normally, I’m not one to stress in new situations. In fact, I often speak publicly for work. Yet, as I packed my bags tonight, I found myself worrying over things that I really never worry about: what dress should I wear? Will the competitor onsite talk negatively about my Company or me? What will I say? Even now, over an hour after I have finished packing, my stomach is in knots, and I don’t want to get on the plane in the morning.
So what am I going to do? Get on that darn plane, of course. Wear my red “look at me” dress – secretly, it’s like armor to a knight – and go out there and face my fear.
Sooner or later, we all find ourselves in situations that make us uncomfortable – or downright freaked out, insecure and scared – at work or in life. We feel “out of our league, out of our element” or maybe just “out to pasture.” We tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough. The competition is too fierce, knows more than we do or just may eat us alive. Our skills “aren’t enough.” We feel like a fraud. Stewing alone in our insecurity, we imagine all the bad things that are going to happen and ultimately cause them to become so. Our fear is a dragon, bellowing the fire of failure.
No one ever promised that things would be easy. Many of the most successful people in work and life have faced significant hurdles to get where they are today. It doesn’t matter what your dragon is: financial, the competition, doubt or inexperience.
What matters is how hard you are going to fight to defeat it. The only way to advance in your career is to know what you are fighting for and how badly you want it. Facing those fears is going to be hard – that’s a given. It may even feel like it’s going to kill you.
It’s easy to be brave in the good times. To measure who you really are, see how brave you can be in the bad times. See how willing you are to fight for a good cause and for the people who are depending on you.
For the record, my stomach is still a wreck, and though I can’t figure out what I’m really afraid of, I just know that I am. I also know that, tomorrow night, I am going to rock that red dress, represent my Company and my Team well, and slay whatever dragon is plaguing me tonight. Once I do, I will know more about myself and be a better leader and mentor for the people that I am honored to serve each and every day.