Don't be afraid (of wrong things)

The phrase "don't be afraid" sounds fake. It's natural to have fear. Moreover, not having fear is just impossible. And definitely, you can't ignore it.

But it's a good question what exactly are you afraid of? Analyzing this further can unfold a lot of interesting things.

How often have you been told that you shouldn't do something because it will make you look unprofessional? Or ask this and that because it will make you look incompetent? How many times have you been paralyzed because you were afraid to be wrong?

Maybe you are like me, and you have experienced all of the above and even more. At some point in my life, I realized that this was stupid. No, not to be afraid, but to be afraid of all the wrong things.

What wrong things?

For example, when you are told that something will make you look unprofessional, what they often mean is "don't question the authority", "don't be honest", or "just do what I say." People tend to confuse looking professional with being silent or being obedient.

Let's stop being afraid of how we'll look. So don't be afraid to:

  • look unprofessional by questioning authority or by being honest
  • look incompetent by asking questions
  • look dumb by asking the same question if you don't understand the answer
  • look weak by being kind
  • (the list is incomplete, but you get the idea)

And most importantly, please don't be afraid to be wrong. Being wrong is a gift. It is the only way you get better.

Instead, be afraid of:

  • not being kind
  • making assumptions
  • being right
  • being ignorant
  • not admitting your mistakes
  • not speaking up
  • (the list is incomplete, but again, you get the idea)

You shouldn't just take my word for it. Let's experiment. Next time you get scared, ask yourself what you are afraid of. And then channel your fear in the right direction. It might take some practice, but you will see the difference.