Solution Saturday: Afraid to Leap
How can I overcome my fear of taking on new challenges and developing new skills. I have an opportunity to lead a team but I’m afraid to take the leap.
I’d really like to get ahead.
Thank you in advance,
Congratulations on earning an opportunity for advancement. New opportunities feel uncertain.
#1. Is this an opportunity? If you are young, expand your experiences. Test your wings. Say yes. But, if you’re older, use long-term goals to evaluate this opportunity. Does leading a team take you where you want to go?
#2. What do others see in you? There must be reasons you earned this opportunity. What are they? Strengths build your future, not weaknesses.
#3. How might you find new applications for your strengths and talents?
#4. Identify new behaviors and skills. New opportunities require new skills. If you don’t need new skills, it may not be an opportunity.
#5. Interview leaders who successfully lead teams. Focus on how they developed. You can’t understand the path by watching the end result.
You may feel discourged when you ignore the process of development and look only at the result.
Ask experienced leaders:
- What behaviors and skills are important for leading teams?
- What did you do to develop your skills?
- What were some of the more difficult aspects of developing your skill?
- What did you overcome?
- What common mistakes might I anticipate?
- What suggestions do you have for someone developing that skill?
- What important milestones did you encounter while developing your skill?
- What, if anything, are you currently doing to develop your skill?
- Who else might I speak with about this skill?
- What should I ask you?
#6. Try on new behaviors in safe environments. Roleplay may feel weird, but it’s better than crash and burn.
#7. Transform observers into helpers.
- Explain the results you’re trying to achieve.
- Ask observers for suggestions.
- Test out different approaches.
New achievements begin with new skills.
The future belongs to leaders who develop their strengths.
You have my best,
What suggestions do you have for “Apprehensive?”
Dan I like how you changed it to “you have earned an opportunity”. We rarely get an opportunity that we did not earn or show we could not handle.
I have found that role playing with a qualified mentor is critical as a new leader. Also just as important is a post review of the event with the same person. If that person can be there for the event that helps a lot. How do you view confrontation? As a leader confrontation at some level is always part of the job and in most cases the sooner the better. Good luck.
Thanks Walt. Your addition of after action reviews is well taken. Learning requires reflection on performance.
Great questions we all should consider with each new opportunity. Your first question is a very good one. Early in my career, I didn’t always ask the question and found myself drifting away from where I wanted to be.
Thanks Jay. I think it’s easy for high achievers to just grab every opportunity. Good call.
What are the consequences if you leap and miss? If you can just dust yourself off and go again, then do it. But make sure missing doesn’t become an albatross.
Thanks Mitch. That’s great advice.
Dan, Really great post. These are excellent questions that we should all ask when confronted with a new opportunity. Early in my own career, I got to try a lot of different things and really broaden my own experiences. As I got into the second half of my career, I went wherever my organization gave me the opportunity. What I didn’t do was consider what those opportunities later in my career would mean and where they were leading. That was a mistake. It lead to opportunities that I did not enjoy and didn’t utilize my strengths. Fortunately, I am back on track now and pursuing my purpose.
I’m thinking that all too often, the ‘new opportunity’ is interpreted as ‘possible failure’ and the freeze is on… As you note, someone must think you have the makeup to accomplish the desired outcome(s). I’m thinking an honest effort ending less than successfully will be interpreted much more favorably than the most gracious turn-down of an opportunity. That’s even more favorable if the outcome(s) and procedure is assessed and reflected upon for follow-up efforts or future use.
“The future belongs to leaders who develop their strengths” is only the solution. We need to build ourselves. This is the root to repel our apprehension. Experimentation on our strength makes us experiences and matured. We learn from our experiences. Whether we fall or rise, we learn every time. People tend to increase their apprehension when they expect only positive result without actually doing it. This inflate their apprehension about the failure. Since they do not expect and digest failure, They do not start. They start overcoming their apprehension as soon as they engage into doing task.
Engaging, doing, failing teach you lesson. These lessons are so important that next times, you learn better way to do that. We learn more when we fail. We may not learn more when we succeed. So, failing is stepping stone to bounce back.
I saw this and my first thought was how valuable a good coach is, finding a person who can help you SEE and amplify your strengths, and help if when you stumble./ doubt. (stumble and doubt at not defeat, they are indicators of engagement.. it just may need some tuning – hence Coach.)
Once again Great question list. Really great value.