Walk into Fear

“There are two types of people in this world, the ones who run from fear and the ones who walk into fear.”

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This statement was shared with me at a career development workshop and it made me think a lot about how I made several of my life decisions. Obviously, by putting people into two distinct categories this statement is an oversimplification. There are many shades of gray in life and depending on the circumstance or environment, people will address their fears differently. Personally, I am much more adventurous when it comes to athletics than I am when it comes to my wallet. I’ll ski down tree covered expert terrain with my mind yelling “you are going to crash!” but I hesitate to invest my money even though I could make a better return than the measly amount I get from my savings account.

Here is my general take on when people are most likely to run from fear vs. walk into it:

People run from fear when they favor stability, are ok with the status quo, are cautious in the face of uncertainty, and when going with the flow is easier or more comfortable.

People walk into fear when they want to push their personal boundaries, make changes to the way things are done, learn new things, and are able to understand that getting their hands dirty or falling on their face comes with the territory.

Both running from and walking into fear can be an appropriate choice depending on the situation. At the moment though, I want to concentrate on a specific situation that requires walking into fear: making a career transition.

For those who naturally walk into fear, career transitions may come easily, but for the majority of us, they are uncomfortable and very difficult. For instance, even though over 70% of the workforce is disengaged in their jobs according to Gallup, most people do little to address their dissatisfaction. It’s easier to make up excuses or create obstacles than it is to take action. It is easier to run from fear. The problem is that in order to make any kind of big, sustainable change in life, it ultimately requires that you confront your fears.

Before starting Joyo, I was faced with a career choice myself… I could stay at a stable job at a great company where I was receiving a good salary with benefits or I could try to build a company with complete strangers, little pay, and no idea what would come of the experience.

I was scared of being broke, scared of giving up my stability, and scared that I’d have to sacrifice most of my time and energy for my work. Even though this choice felt hard in the moment, looking back at it now it was a no brainer. I was not happy or fulfilled in my corporate role. I knew that I wanted to have an impact with my work and I wanted the opportunity to show what I could do. I made the decision to leap into the world of entrepreneurship because it became clear to me that I desired a change, and walking into my fear was the only way to get there.

Here are 3 lessons I learned on ways to take action and walk into fear:

1. Name your fear. People are scared of what they don’t know. I love the saying “To name it is to own it.” Name your fear and take the first step in understanding what you’re up against.

2. Test the water. Don’t make an abrupt decision. Go out and test what your transition will really be like by immersing yourself in a related activity. The knowledge you gain will help you better understand the trade-offs involved in your decision.

3. Burn the ships. When you finally make a decision, own it and don’t look back. The first step is always the hardest. Use your momentum to propel yourself forward.

You too have a choice to get what you want out of your career. It’s not smart to brazenly run forward (quit your job), but if you really want a change, you have to venture into the unknown. Walk into your fear and you will at least give yourself a chance to learn, grow, and own your outcome.

 



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