What work scares you? What work, when you think about it, makes you anxious? Maybe it is a customer-facing role where you’re in front of people all the time. Maybe it is the opposite of that and you’re stuck at a desk all day long with little interaction with people. Maybe it is a role where you have to travel and be away from home a lot. Why does it scare you? This is worth exploring further.
Drill down into the job and its components. Does the responsibility to others scare you? Do you not want to take that on? Are you afraid of failing in that capacity? Responsibility is a common fear for us. People often do not want the responsibility to take on more or to be responsible for others’ livelihoods. It can be scary to be in that position of authority. But is that enough not to do it? Sometimes taking on these positions that scare us is the best thing for us. It helps to stretch us beyond what we’re used to, pushing us into new areas of growth.
Making presentations scares people. Yet presentations are often required to be of service in companies. People need research performed, data gathered and presented to others. Most people would rather go hide in the corner than give a presentation. While they can be scary, you’re getting the opportunity to exhibit your analytical skills and presentation skills simultaneously. These are rare opportunities. Someone or some group cares enough to believe in you and assign this task to you. You’re the expert here. Look at it that way. Presentations are great opportunities for your career if you see them that way. It is a skill that never goes out of style or demand. In fact, it is getting more demand each day. A great presentation that keeps everyone engaged and on-point is a rare and valuable thing. Look at it as a professional challenge. You get the opportunity to make something shine in front of others. Plus, great presentation skills translate into other valuable things: doing webinars, videos, and storytelling. You’re willing to do things which few others are.
“DO today what other’s won’t, so you can do tomorrow what others can’t.”
— Mark Divine, Owner SEALFit
Hiring and firing authority scares many people. You’re now responsible for staff. You’re building a team. Hiring and firing are scary because they’re hard to get right. There also isn’t good schooling or education to follow in order to improve. In order to get good, you have to practice like you would any other skill. These events are usually rare in a manager’s day-to-day duties, making them hard in which to acquire skill. The less experience in something we have, the less confident in its execution we are. Thus, the more anxious we are when we have to do them. It’s difficult. But if you want to grow and grow your organization, you must hire and build out a team to help you because you cannot do it all on your own. Plus, again, hiring is something that most entrepreneurs and even managers don’t want to do.
Writing is scary to some. Many people have an allergic reaction to writing. Perhaps this stems from high school or college, writing papers all the time, often late, usually late at night, under pressure. Some found it torturous. To these same some, the writing torture endures into the modern workplace. They don’t want to subject themselves to it. So, they punt, deferring to others.
Taking on writing projects at work is a point of differentiation if few others are willing to do the work. These encompass script writing to presentations to summarizing data to making recommendations to executives. Scary to some but absolutely necessary. It must be done. If few others are willing, why not have it be you?
By doing scary work, you’re willing to do the work that others won’t. This sets you apart. Typically, scary work is more profitable for your immediate and long-term future. The stakes are higher. There are far less willing participants here. Only opportunities exist for those able to step up and engage what’s required to be of service despite the seeming difficulties of the tasks. Moreover, doing so is the very essence of personal and professional growth. A willingness to focus and engage in the hard task is a high-demand skill.
Scary work is leadership work. Since few others are willing to engage in this type of work, it automatically sets you apart from the crowd. A can-do attitude in the face of anxiety-ridden tasks also sets you apart. If you can take what they give you and make it shine, all the more reason to believe in your abilities, to build confidence and to strengthen your resolve.
We’ve done scary work before. We’ve stood up and made the presentation. Some of us many times. We’ve written the white paper. We’ve actually been on camera and it didn’t turn out that bad. We’ve worked the trade show for endless days and pushed through to the end. We’ve delivered the webinar content and answered questions successfully at the end. We’ve been on panel and didn’t make a fool of ourselves. We’ve been interviewed a dozen times before and most of them went well. See, scary work isn’t new territory for us. Our anxiety toward it is misplaced.
We can solve these anxieties and scary tasks by believing in our ability to figure things out — even if we think we don’t have everything we need yet. We should move into what scares us, start to take some of these tasks on, and push ourselves outside our comfort zone. We can take confidence in knowing that, while it won’t be perfect, things will turn out just fine. We can take action and calibrate while we execute. Besides, the best ideas come while we’re creating, not while waiting for creative energy to strike.