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Creating Successful Leaders

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought I would talk a little bit about fear. Often, when we’re afraid of something, we imagine the worse possible scenarios. We think about cars flipping over or spiders biting us. We imagine getting fired from our jobs if we step out of line or fear that we’ll never get that promotion if we assert ourselves too much around the office.

According to Karen Thompson Walker, fear is a story we tell ourselves. We are the authors and we sometimes let our minds take us to wild places. In her TED talk, Walker suggests that fear can be a good thing if we are in control of our fear and examine it objectively. She calls this “productive paranoia.”

Rather than ignoring your fear, ask yourself why you are afraid. Are you afraid for good reason? Or are you telling yourself a wild, emotion-filled narrative that is probably not true?

Looking at this concept from a work perspective, ask yourself why you are afraid to talk to the new people in the office or why you are afraid to ask your boss for time off. Do you think you’ll be rejected by your new co-workers? Do you think your boss will fire you? These, of course, are possibilities, but how likely are they? Use your fear to approach your problems objectively and minimize risk (for instance, if you are afraid your boss will reprimand you for requesting time off, make a case for your request and lay it out logically for your boss).

Don’t let your fear direct you; you should direct it.

Happy Halloween!

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