A few days ago a young sales professional approached me at an event in Vienna and politely asked me if he could share some thoughts about fear and failure with me. I have some experience with these two topics so I was all ears.
This young man began the discussion by assuring me that his current employment fulfills his economic requirements, he respects the managers who run the company, and he is proud of the results they are collectively achieving. With the politically correct introduction out of the way, he dived into his real concerns: he felt under-appreciated, and therefore uncertain about his career future with that company.
Gradually, more and more people joined, as if all of them implicitly shared the same frustrations.
Most poignantly, he made it very clear that his personal ambitions where higher than he could see reaching at his current employer. But he found that moving out of the safe situation he enjoys was harder than he expected.
"Dude, make what feels right!" someone said.
"Life is pure risk, bro!" yelled another, obviously intending to be encouraging.
But the messages didn’t click. It's much easier to encourage others to take risks that it is to do it yourself.
For the next half-hour, we all engaged in an intense dialogue that brought agreement in many areas. I must admit that we all finished the conversation feeling inspired and empowered. Let me share with you some of the most interesting highlights:
• Finding and embracing new opportunities requires training ourselves to constantly expand and step out of our comfort zone.
• Opting for a change is no guarantee for success. Courage helps to overcome fear, but not failure. We should manage our expectations accordingly.
• Recognizing that something is wrong with the current situation is the first step. A call for reflection is due. Sometimes you fix the situation from within; sometimes you have to step out of the situation.
• The process of deciding to make a change is like peeling an onion. Every layer of thought brings you farther from fear and closer to the core problem.
• Resigning from your current job to open your own business is not the only option. Whenever we think we've come to a point where our only options are two extremes, we should not give up on searching for something in between.
• Changing companies doesn’t mean the real problem will be solved. A move without addressing the root problem means we'll soon start feeling similar symptoms to our previous experience. The problem might be postponed or take on a different form, but it usually comes back.
• There is nothing wrong with failure as long as you understand it is the beginning of change. That means that more steps are ahead. It's been said that, "An expert is someone who has failed in every way possible within a vary narrow scope."
• Sacrificing your own potential and killing your dreams of something better, in exchange for the security of a bad job is a failure by default.
I’m very curious to know if my new friend’s entrepreneurial spirit will succumb to the temptation of conformity or will he embrace his arising passions with courage and enthusiasm.
What’s your bet? What would you do?
Jose Antonio Morales