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Over the past decade or so, June represents a pivotal point in my life. It is the time when I look at my career, my goals, my projects and evaluate where I am versus what I have to achieve the rest of the year in order to be happy with my progress. This year, my review will be late, but for a good, nay great reason. For the last two years, two of my close friends and I have been talking about going to Asia on an adventure. We finally bit the bullet and have just come off two weeks of intensely exploring China and Thailand. This experience was an interesting reminder of lessons I have learnt in my career.
I have heard it said - over and over again - if you want to do great things, you must get over your fears. Easier said than done, right? Most fears are real, very few are imagined. Every time we thought of taking the plunge and held back, we used excuses - we did not have enough money, the language barrier would make it difficult to navigate Asia, we would get lost - the list went on. When we finally decided to book our flights though, we figured out how to cope with all our fear and took action based on each. For example, we sought out a bilingual guide to take us around and help out with understanding cultural norms. Take risks, do your research, find other people who have walked the path to guide you and keep at it until you have addressed your fears.
The people who love us want to keep us safe even if it means holding us back and those who don't are envious that we are stretching beyond our comfort zone. When we told people we were going to Asia on an adventure (not for work-related training) we were met with equal amounts of bewilderment and encouragement. Some people did not see the point in spending significant amounts of money without a definite plan in mind but from an exploring mindset.
When you venture into unfamiliar territory at work, you're most likely to compound your fears because of listening to everyone around you, especially the naysayers. Turn a deaf ear to them if you truly believe in what you are going after.
When Sara Blakely of the phenomenal Spanx brand started what is now a multi-billion dollar empire, she worked in secret until she had made some traction. She was not looking for validation because she believed in her project and she knew opening up to the world would put her in a position where her self- belief was shaken, little by little. When she was ready with a prototype, she launched and never looked back.
Don't be afraid to make a daring bold change, but do not announce it to the whole world before you are ready to weather the criticism. If we had spoken to people before we booked our tickets, we may never have done it, even though we knew in our hearts of hearts that we were sure of the trip.
- Don't let people tell you that you cannot do something - instead find ways to increase the chances of your success.
- Keep going, keep finding new ways of tackling your goals and be relentless about crossing the finish line.