Picture
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

This quote, which Mandela cited in his 1994 Inaugural Speech, was given to me years ago by my dear friend Liz, who is a hugely successful HR professional in NYC. She has interviewed, managed and advised hundreds and hundreds of employees in her long career. She has mentored, encouraged, and, as she says, more often than not, even cajoled her advisees into taking the next step in their career paths. She shared this quote which she keeps on her desk to remind herself and others how important it is to be fearless in our careers. “Playing small,” she says, “doesn’t serve anyone’s purpose.”

When we think back on lost opportunities in our careers and ponder the causes, we might see that often those missed chances are due to indecision and procrastination. Once we finally decide to take the plunge, we are told that the position has already been filled. What causes us to hesitate? Perhaps we shrink in the face of competition, fear a new environment, or are terrified of disappointment and rejection. One observation Liz shared with me is that so many lost opportunities are due to a misplaced lack of confidence, even though the employee may be extremely competent and have excellent experience. But what causes this disconnect? Psychology Today suggests that one reason could be a fear of success.

Livestrong.com, whose byline is “The limitless potential of you,” states that a cause of fear of success can be the “belief that you are undeserving of all the good things and recognition that come your way as a result of your accomplishments and successes.” This can lead to a “lack of effort to achieve goals” and “self-destructive behavior”. Livestrong.com is a fabulous resource to get energized in all phases of your life, including your career management. They suggest new behavior patterns to overcome one’s fear of success and even outline a five-step process to help your progress. All these steps can be applied to your career if you find yourself "playing small" and underestimating yourself. Check out the Livestrong site to get more details.

Here are the steps to resolve a fear of success as outlined by Livestrong.com:

Step 1: Identify the fear in each area of your life.

Step 2: Ask yourself a series of questions about yourself and your motivations

Step 3: Identify and address the beliefs that lead you to fear success. If these beliefs are rational, they can be replaced with positive self-affirmations. If they are irrational beliefs, they should be replaced with rational, self-affirming ones.

Step 4: Ask yourself a series of questions about what new behaviors you need to develop.

Step 5: Make a commitment to develop these new behaviors.

The Nike commercial spouts “Just Do It” but obviously that is easier said than done. Identifying and addressing whatever obstacles hinder our success is the first step to liberating ourselves from them. Freedom from the deep fears that hold you back creates a sense of energy, of fearlessness. And once you become fearless, you can truly realize "the limitless potential of you."


 
 
Picture
We are all sad to see the recent passing of Steve Jobs . His passing affects us on various levels because he had so many dimensions. He was a young vibrant family man. He was a cancer warrior. He was a genius, a pioneer, a cowboy. He was a visionary. He was a great businessperson.

He was one of the best career advisors I know.

He exhorted us to be ourselves.

Those words, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Those aren’t typical career advice words.

Be organized. Time Management. Network. Interview Dos and Don’ts. Get a Mentor.” Those are the words we’ve come to expect for career advice.

We’ve read about his empowering Stanford commencement speech that ended with those precise words, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” In that one passionate and intensely personal speech, Jobs generously and eloquently shared his private reflections on life. He exhorted us simply to believe in ourselves. He lived the importance of his words, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Jobs did stay hungry. His craving to realize his dreams through innovation and excellence and quality lead him to invent and reinvent himself. Not settling for the status quo or succumbing to setbacks, he envisioned and acted on his dreams. His biological parents insisted that his adopted parents send Jobs to college. Jobs didn’t “see the value of” a college education that drained his parent’s life’s savings and so, he dropped out. He trusted that things would be fine. He audited the courses that interested him, slept on friends’ floors, collected soda bottles for redemption money and walked seven miles to a soup kitchen for a good meal. Foolish? Maybe. Maybe not. He stayed hungry.

He has been compared to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Two other foolish and hungry guys.

Steve Jobs was foolish. Foolish to believe that a man from his humble and checkered background could do what he did. Foolish to think out of the box and create a world of music, photos, video and communication that was accessible and elegant. Foolish to trust himself. He got fired from his own company. Ouch. And went on to create another inspired company that was bought by his first one. He became CEO of the whole shebang. Maybe we all should trust ourselves a bit more.

He was humble enough to admit that luck and loss both contributed to his life’s equation. He considered himself fortunate to have found what he loved to do early in life. He also saw value in the losses in his life. He would say that being fired from Apple was “devastating” but one of the best things that ever happened to him. It freed him from convention and enabled him to think foolishly again. To focus on the hunger. He would say that his cancer diagnosis made him realize that time was limited, so, he advises, “don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

He tapped a nerve in all of us whose lives haven’t taken the traditional routes, who have had struggles and dreams, and see in him hope and inspiration. The guy was abandoned by his birth parents, was a school dropout, fired from his own company, had cancer and yet he was still able to conjure up the inner fortitude and hope to get back on the saddle. To trust that things would work out and that he alone would make them happen.

“You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”