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Friday, November 18, 2005

Career-Op - Fear - November 18, 2005

Fear is a powerful emotion and, as such, it can make us do almost anything. Unscrupulous people understand the dynamics of fear and some will use it to their advantage, whenever possible. They will use this power to benefit themselves at the cost of everyone around them.

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So, what are you afraid of? Your fears can be relatively small – like the fear of fitting in, fear of not being able to afford a fancy car or fear of losing your girlfriend. Other fears can be significantly greater, such as fears of losing your home, your job or other things that are important to you. Still others are grand and dramatic, and also usually out of your immediate control, such as fear of terrorism, fear of injury and fear of death.

All of these fears, large and small can be used to control you to greater and lesser degrees. Peer pressure to fit in is used to enforce societal norms, but, even then, you can break though and do as you wish for the most part. On the other hand, life and death fears can be used to control and manipulate large groups of people. History has shown that citizens will act against their own best interest if they can be made to fear enough.

It is acceptable to be afraid, as long as you don’t let the fear control you. Fear is a healthy emotion that warns of us danger. Uncontrolled fear, though, gets blown out of all proportion. We begin to worry over problems and issues and even create new ones out of our fear.

Your job is NOT everything

Do you live in fear of losing your job? Do you feel that you can’t ask for a raise, a promotion or a vacation? If so, regardless of any opportunities your job might provide, you are being controlled. This control might be somewhat benign, but it could also be quite insidious. It all depends on how people use it. Your awareness of the fear, though, is the first step on the path to a better career.

If you see that fear is being used to control you, what are you to do? The easiest step would be to get a new job and simply be rid of the problem, but is this really wise? Suppose you begin to feel the same way in the next job. And the next... I think you need to do some clear thinking about yourself and the situation first. Does your fear come from external forces or are you developing the fear from within? Too often, and I must admit to this myself, our fear is greatly out of proportion to the actual circumstances. Perhaps those around you have taught you to be afraid of your manager instead of allowing you to develop your own relationship with him or her. Do you have direct experiences that are causing your fear or are you basing it on the experiences of others? Worse still, are your own propensities for fear clouding your reactions to those around you? If so, you are likely to carry your fear from job to job. You need to break the cycle of fear before you think of moving on.

How do you escape the fear? First, you need to believe in yourself and the benefits you bring to your work. I don’t care if you are assembling PC’s, working the help desk or creating new software, you have to remember, everyday, that you matter! If your work didn’t matter, you wouldn’t have found your first job, let alone the sixth or seventh. If your work didn’t matter, the company wouldn’t have hired you in the first place. The simple reality of being employed should bear this out. It was not a fluke. They didn’t hire you out of pity. Your company needed your skills to fulfill their goals. Once you can keep this thought in your mind, you are well on your way toward rising above the fear. You might find that there is a way to make your current job better, if you can only stop being afraid.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, or perhaps his speechwriter, was quite right when he stated, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Fear is the root cause of so many dysfunctions and bad decisions. If you can fight your way out of fear, you can achieve great things in your life and your high-tech career.


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