Are you afraid that fear may be stifling your professional growth? How many times has a cloud of anxiety distorted your view of a delicate workplace situation? How long have you wanted to pursue something more exciting, more risky, but chose the safer path?
To guide you through such pitfalls, we’ve assembled 5 of the most common ways fear can work against your career.
Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe
What exactly is fear? Being scared isn’t just for Halloween! Fear is our most powerful emotion. Studies show people identify fear above any other sentiment. Fear is primal. It is controlled by two almond-sized regions of the brain called the amygdala, which facilitate past experience, decision-making and feelings. Our fear response is a biological outcome of how we experience our environment—and the workplace is no exception.
While there is a valid role it plays in life, the body tends to irrationally use fear. Learning the five most common professional potholes will enable you to remain on-course for a thriving career.
#1 Playing it safe by avoiding mistakes
Fear of making errors can do more damage than you may realize. Not only will such anxiety dampen your greatest strengths, it will prevent you from doing your most creative work. Keeping a positive frame of mind by envisioning optimistic outcomes justifies prudent risk-taking. Albert Einstein once said, “A ship is always safe at the shore, but that is not what it was built for.”
#2 Ceremonially repeating past successes
How vivid is your memory of the last time you were recognized in front of colleagues? It’s tempting to say “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” In this day and age, however, the only 21st Century constant is change. To be a versatile asset to the team, it is useful to constantly try new things beyond your traditional role. To be upwardly mobile, enhance your understanding of cross departmental operations. Are you in Sales, get a better understanding of Service. If you are in accounting, get out in the field once a quarter. Are you a customer facing engineer? Spend a few extra days at headquarters the next time you travel and see how the back-office functions.
#3 Trying way too hard
Many spend too much time and effort forcing outcomes they can neither control nor fully understand. It is important to realize that there is a time and place for patience; we must submit to God when we grasp that a situation requires a strategic waiting period. I often refer to this as a Coffee Break (and to our friends in the UK, have a tea.) If you are baffled by a situation, go get a cup of coffee. Take time to enjoy it while mulling over the data in your head. Take no action more than drinking your coffee. The answer will come to you without having to overwork (or overstress) yourself. In a corporate culture that loves to grind the gears, remember to maximize productivity by taking pause while God’s plans unfolds before us.
#4 Struggling toward egocentric independence
Only God knows all, so why do we constantly fall prey to the notion we can solve every problem that comes our way? The Pareto principle says we spend 80% of our time on 20% of our problems. Fear (pride of failing) keeps us from asking for help when stumped. Although asking for assistance in humility could foster a quick resolution, we cave to the fear of looking bad and suffer for it. Whether you work for a corporation or a small business, you are part of a team. Ask for help. If done respectfully, people love to —just don’t forget to thank them for their efforts.
#5 Choosing work over a walk with God
It is OK to “fail” at a company that does not share your values and ideals. It is not OK to allow an unscrupulous company to influence your relationship with God. As Christians, we are called to work in all things as if we are working for the Lord. However, if you find your employer is encouraging unprincipled behavior, it may be time to look for an opportunity elsewhere. After all, a professional speed bump can be overcome, but your walk with God is eternal life.
Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience. He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to use their career to glorify God and support local church growth.
Shawn Sommerkamp, speaking to the Charleston Church of Christ at the New Year's Eve church service Dec 31, 2017.
Targeted goal-setting is powerful and effective. It helps us keep clarity of outcome. Breaking big desires down into smaller, achievable goals makes success achievable. The biggest challenges are overcome as we make a series of small goals that, collectively, lead to big outcomes.
And yet, just setting a bunch of goals can often be discouraging when we don’t reach them. Ever wonder why we often fall short? It’s because the goals weren’t smart! I’m not talking about whether the goals are stupid or intelligent either. I’m talking about a simple way of thinking about an activity designed to help us achieve results. It’s called S.M.A.R.T. and it stands for the following:
It’s early January.
The Holidays are over.
It can feel like we go from the ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ to the most challenging time of the year.
A more appropriate lyric, now that it is time to make resolutions & get back to work, could be one of the following…
‘It’s The Most:
- Crazy busy
- Cash poor
- Weight Gaining
…Time Of The Year.’`
It’s not that you are
You want to enjoy it, but
it can feel more like “I just want to get through it.”
Although your MIND knows that God’s will for you (according to 1 Th 5:16-18) is to:
“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances…”
...your HEART can lag behind & this simple command can seem overwhelming.
Sometimes you can put your finger on what’s dragging you down & other times it’s more elusive ~ not really sure what’s keeping things from being ‘Wonderful’.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
Give thanks, no matter what is happening in your life. This is easy…right?
A national polling firm named Penn, Schoen, & Berland conducted a survey, mid-2012, evaluating American attitude toward thankfulness. They conducted more than 2,000 interviews across the US general population. I’m only going to share a few pieces of the overall report:
Where is the one place people are least likely to express gratitude? WORK
Based on this survey, that hardest circumstance to give thanks exists in and around the workplace. Isn’t that amazing? The place we spend the most waking hours (about 2,200 hours per year, about 110,000 hours in working lifespan) we aren’t thankful for. Wow!
The truth is our career is not just a way to make a living - it’s a way to transform the world. It’s the place God placed us so that we could make the biggest difference in our service to him.
Do you remember when these 3D-Hidden Object posters
came out? They were quite the RAVE…
They were not what they appeared to be at first glance… If you wanted to understand what the poster was really about, you had to stop what you were doing, get real close to it – focus on it, and back away very slowly… and then – like magic – 3D images would appear / seemingly emerge right off of the paper (3D effect). The embedded 3D images were disguised and hidden to the untrained/unfocused eyes.
Some people (me included sometimes) would get frustrated if we could not see the 3D images fast enough – some were easier than others… and missed the ‘magic’ of the poster.