Facing Your Fears At Work

fear of leading


Sally Grisedale

Here’s the problem with fear. When our actions stem from fear, and we fear being laid off, receiving a negative performance review, or fearing conflict at work or public speaking, we are delaying the inevitable and our fear becoming a reality. Why? Because where intention goes, energy flows.

Are You In a Job Driven by Fear?

If your heart’s not in your work because you’re afraid, you won’t be happy, feel creative, or become fulfilled. It’s biological. Sadly, the energy you commit to fear, rather than joy, is working against you.

We cannot hold two emotions at the same time. “Both feelings constitute your emotional reality but can’t be felt, or experienced, to the same degree simultaneously.” according to author and psychologist Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D.

One Thing You Can Do

One way to overcome fear is to consider what will happen if your greatest fear comes true. Take a peek from a safe place at the worst-case scenario, and ask yourself, does the reality of the situation justify your fear? You may see that even if the worst thing did happen, it may not be as terrible as you imagine.

Is being laid off, making errors on the job, dealing with demanding customers, speaking in front of customers, having conflict with coworkers or your boss, or receiving a bad performance review so terrible?

If it does happen, it may point to a change that needs to occur, or it may point to an even greater fear hidden from your view.

Being escorted out the door was awkward for the people in the office who witnessed my departure that Friday afternoon. It was a unique experience where someone cried, and it wasn’t me. I could not have anticipated how devastated I felt about losing my work family, specifically the design teams I led.

People’s Greatest Fears at Work

Here’s a list of some of the big ones:

  • Being laid off or fired
  • Making errors on the job
  • Dealing with demanding customers or clients
  • Speaking in front of a group of people
  • Conflicts with coworkers
  • Conflicts with your manager
  • Receiving a lousy performance review
  • Something else….

Have you faced one of these fears?

Have your feelings about the fear limited your ability to advance your career?

How did you overcome your fear?

Photo by Farrel Nobel on Unsplash

the Leading by Design Newsletter

What Is the Leading by Design Newsletter? Great question.

Leading by Design is a blog for creative leaders working in tech. It’s not a “Why You Should Use AI in Design Thinking” or “How to Hire and Retain Product Design Teams with Impact” type of blog. There are enough of those.

I write about the challenges you can’t safely discuss as creative leaders working in tech. The stories come directly from my experience leading teams at Apple, Meta, Yahoo!, and some start-ups and from the executive design leaders I coach today.

I have written about the stressful magpie boss, hateful cross-functional peers, creative burnout, the shame of job loss and survivor guilt, and the fear of becoming irrelevant in the marketplace.

I publish once a week and offer strategies to reframe your challenge so you can return to being the creative leader your team loves you to be.

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