Fear is not always a bad thing. While fear can be a paralyzing force that prevents us from moving forward, fear can also serve as a signal, a big hint that something isn’t quite right. The key is to recognize the fear, take what we can from it and move on.
I keep in touch with a lot of people I’ve worked with at one point or another. Recently, I’ve talked to several people from an old job. One former coworker saw the writing on the wall. Over the past two years, she’s seen a number of her friends and co-workers lose their jobs. She’s seen the restructuring of departments and workloads. She’s watched morale plummet. So, slowly, about a year ago, she started putting together her exit plan. A month ago, they eliminated her position and transferred her to another job in another department. She felt as if things were going from bad to worse. She put her plan in action and when she called me, she was no longer working with our former employer.
Meanwhile, a few days later, another former co-worker from the same company called me. She’s fearful that she might be losing her job. She too has seen a number of her coworkers lose their jobs over the past two years. She’s seen how the new management has devalued the employees and in several cases, she’s seen some truly unethical behavior. Now, her supervisor seems to be targeting her. When I asked her what she was doing, she shrugged and said, “There’s nothing I can do but hope for the best.”
Her ‘hope’ plan goes like this. She hopes that she will keep her job. She hopes that if she doesn’t keep her job, at least she’ll get a severance package. She hopes she won’t have to look for a job so she is not circulating her resume or even checking any job boards. She’s afraid she won’t find something that pays her close to what she’s making now.
What’s the difference? Both women experienced fear. Both felt that their futures at the company were in jeopardy. One used fear as a motivator. Fear was the catalyst that got her to take action. The other used fear as a paralyzer. Her fear prevented her from taking action. It stopped her cold in her tracks. For her, I hope the hope plan words, because if it doesn’t…
Living a life without fear isn’t living a life. The issue isn’t getting rid of fear it’s learning to use fear. Learn from it. Listen to what it’s telling you. Use that information to move beyond it. Fear might never be a friend but it doesn’t have to be an enemy either.