Too often, we let important projects languish in limbo, and we pay a price for it. Mary has a book almost ready to go to the printer, but she keeps postponing her final edits. Sarah was chosen to do a presentation at her company’s sales conference in two months, but she hasn’t started it and the PR people are asking for copy. These are a few examples of how individuals can unintentionally put their careers in jeopardy.
Most often, fear is at the root of career sabotage. In order to advance your career or grow your business, here are some fear-busting strategies. A lot of it has to do with changing your mind-set and learning how to take positive risks that will help you achieve your goals. You need to let go of the following beliefs:
I need to be perfect and not make mistakes. Smart women know that perfection is unattainable, so you should strive for excellence instead. Release that negative straitjacket of needing everything to be perfect and get real – do the best that you can do and then let go. If Mary is still uncomfortable about her book going to the printer, she should hire someone to review her final edits for further assurance.
I am not good at this, so I will try to avoid it. If there’s an aspect of your job description that you don’t feel as confident about, you need to work on that skill, not run away from it. If Sarah is in sales and cannot complete a presentation, she is not likely to go far in her field. Public speaking is the number one fear of adults, but if you are in a job that requires it you must take advantage of the resources that are out there. Watch TED talks or videos on YouTube to see how effective speakers operate and learn from their behaviors.
If people criticize me, I will be embarrassed. As women, we need to come to grips with the fact that not everyone will like us or our work and get over it. If you are being criticized for a skill you believe you are great at, then take it with a grain of salt. If the criticism is toward a skill you are still working on, ask that person what you can do to improve the next time around. Feedback, both positive and negative, is essential for personal growth.
Asking for help is a sign of weakness and incompetence. We often think we are supposed to be able to master everything quickly, and that if we don’t, it is somehow our fault. You don’t need to broadcast that you are unsure of things to your colleagues; make a list of what you need to know and find the best person to answer your questions so you can make informed decisions. Asking for help is an executive skill, and action diminishes fear.
—Gail McMeekin, Career Coach