When I first started out in business, many years ago, I was excited, I was hopeful, and I was terrified as I headed to New York to start in an entry level job in publishing. Part of me was reasonably confident I was going to figure this out and I was excited to get to it.
Another part of me, the “downer” part, unfortunately, said things like “Who do you think you are to be….?” and “What makes you think you can….?”.
It’s not that this part didn’t want me to succeed, she was just trying to manage disappointment and humiliation by keeping the bar set very low. Her favorite strategy for saving me from failure was to throw up mountains of fear when it came to risk taking.
Because my more optimistic part was as strong and sometimes stronger, I took some of those risks anyway and in time my fear got smaller and smaller.
The more action I took, the more confident I became. I began to own the “feeling” of success, and loved it, of course. I was also, importantly, developing muscle memory for the process of failing and surviving – and getting back up and trying again.
Over time I learned that success at work and in life often come down to taking action. And when I’m nervous and frightened, I’ve learned to look for the smallest possible step that I can take and to start there.
What I wish for you, (reader) I also wish for my son and for all my beautiful, smart nieces and nephews – all in their 20’s. My wish for you is that is that you throw yourselves into your work with abandon. That you ask big questions (without worrying if they’re dumb) in order to inhale all the knowledge you can. I hope you will take ridiculously bold risks – caring not if you are right or wrong, but rather about what you will learn and what impact your good ideas can have.
I hope if any of you forget how smart and wonderful you are, and you find yourself stopped by fear, that you will find that smallest possible step you are able to take – and then take it.
I hope if you ever need a reminder of how capable and brave you are, you will have a network of people to whom you can turn for support and renewed courage.
And, if you don’t have that critical network of support (yet), I hope you call me.