I recently got back from a week in Singapore – a week that was bookended by two of the world’s longest flights. And I mean that literally. At 18.5+ hours, the flight from LAX to Singapore is one of the longest commercial flights you can make!
When you travel a lot as I do, you have a ton of thinking time, especially if you can’t sleep on planes like me. You also get to meet all sorts of people. People at their best and at their worst. The best rocks and the worst well, not so much. And when you’re meeting people at their worst, it’s usually because you’re bumping up against their fears – fear of flying, fear of enclosed spaces, fear of missing out (FOMO), fear of whatever. Fear can make people unpleasant, if not downright impossible to deal with. And what’s sad is fear holds people back and prevents them from connecting with their fellow travelers – we’ve all heard those stories of a chance meeting on a plane that changed someone’s life or career forever! So the big question is, how do we move beyond that fear and negativity?
Clearly, the workplace is also a place where you’re likely to meet people working from fear. It shows up differently for all people and sometimes doesn’t even look like fear, but unless you bust through it, it will continue to keep you from achieving the success you want for yourself, your team, and your company.
Over the 36+ hours I spent on a plane at the end of January, I had a lot of time to reflect on what holds people back in life and in their careers. After training over 14,000 millennials, I’ve found that most people struggle with the same five things. Occasionally, I’ll get a client with a unique challenge, but by and large most people get hung up by the same damn things! The good news? They’re all things we can coach you through!
Fear of Failure
Fear of failure holds you back because when you’re afraid to fail, you’re afraid to risk anything. You reject opportunities for growth or advancement because it means stepping outside your comfort zone and opening yourself up to failing. So you stay in the same role even though you have nothing left to learn. You stay at the same job you hate because you’re afraid to fail in a new role at a new company. You daydream about starting your own business, but never do more than dabble because you’re afraid to fail in such a public way.
But here’s the thing. If you want to get a promotion, start your own company, change careers – you need to accept that risk is part of the package. As the old saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You HAVE to risk failure and lean into the uncertainty in order to succeed. It is simply not possible to stay “safe” and crush your goals at the same time. You have to be bold and take action, regardless of the outcome.
Lack of Confidence
If you suffer from a lack of confidence, you will have trouble connecting with others and asking for what you want whether that’s a promotion, a new role, or the sale. Instead, you wait for these things to be handed to you. You hope that if you work hard enough, your boss will notice and give you the raise you’ve been thinking about. You tell yourself that if you’re nice enough to the prospective client, they’ll just decide to give you their business.
But it doesn’t work like that. You NEED to learn how to connect with others, articulate your value, and ask for what you want in a way that serves others. We call that “WIFThem”. ..What’s in it for them. Which again goes back to working on the relationship you have with yourself so you can know your story and what you have to give to others.
Somehow we’ve got it into our heads that being self-deprecating is the same as being humble. It’s not.
It might seem innocent enough to brush off a compliment or make a joke that puts yourself down, but over time, you begin to reinforce the idea that you are unworthy of the accolades, praise, and compliments of others. And when you feel unworthy of what you’ve already been given, you will shy away from opportunities to do more and be more. Which will never move you closer to your career goals.
Instead, you need to own it!!! We all have something to contribute so figure out what you have to give to others and own every inch of it!!!
Fear of Being Found Out
Also known as imposter syndrome, many people I’ve coached are held back by an intense fear that “other people will find them out”. That if people get too close, if they spend too much time with them, they will discover that they’re not as talented, smart, creative, innovative, imaginative, etc. as they’ve made themselves out to be. That once people take a look under the shiny hood, instead of the performance engine they expect to find, they’ll discover the car’s leaking oil and held together with duct tape. So they stay in hiding and keep people at arm’s length.
But if you want the career you’ve always dreamed of, you need to find a way to show your value and be vulnerable, which is one of the key leadership traits for success. Once you can share who you truly are, you’ll be able to make it about others. You can’t make it about others if you can’t be vulnerable and connect with them to find out what they truly care about! So until you let go of this fear that you’ll be found out as a fraud, which you won’t, you’re going to struggle to connect and move forward in your career.
Inability to Take Action
Some people are held back simply by their inability to get out of their own way and take action! They get so overwhelmed by the thought of changing jobs, starting a new career, or going the entrepreneur route that they stare at the mountain of decisions that need to be made and choose to do NOTHING. By the way, this fear usually relates to one of the aforementioned fears being buried down deep…but we won’t put you on the couch just yet.
Here’s the thing: you might think you’re abdicating or deferring the responsibility by refusing to make a decision. But you’re still making a choice. You’re choosing to do nothing about your current situation and you’re choosing to do nothing to move you closer to your goals. So if you’re telling yourself that you DO really want the promotion or the job, then you have to DO something about it. You cannot sit back and hope things just work out in your favor.
So what’s holding you back? And how are you going to bust through it to get the life and career you want? If you don’t know, then start by scheduling your exploratory coaching call or signing up for our next Strengths & Story workshop.
- Take Risks. Lean into Uncertainty.
- Be Bold. Be Vulnerable.
- Own Your Value.
- Connect With Others and Make it About Them.
- Choose Action.