Fear. Even though the recession is now years behind us, fear still lingers for many of us. For example, a recent study by Allianz Life found that 49 percent of women had a deep-seated fear of becoming a "bag lady," even though a quarter of the woman surveyed made over $200,000 a year. How do we stop letting fear hang over us like a cloud? With courage. Which reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend's mother years ago. She knew that the heir apparent to run her company had lied on his job application. But she was scared to speak up. She said, "I know you wouldn't be scared to say something, but I am."
Almost anyone would be scared to speak up under those conditions. The issue isn't whether you're scared or not; the question is, will you let your fears hold you back? That's why I offer three Do's and one Don't to hopefully make you more courageous at work. For more, check out Robert and Carolyn Turknett's book "Decent People, Decent Company" (Davies-Black, 2005).
-- DO get everyone involved. Let me fill you in on a little secret. I've got an MBA and I've been an adjunct professor to MBA students. But I think the MBA view of the world, primarily focused on short-term results, causes as many problems at it solves. I'm not saying we should banish MBAs and executives from the conversation, but we shouldn't let them control the debate, either. We need to accept that the rules have changed and come up with new approaches to deal with the challenges that we face.
-- DO accept that these are uncharted waters. Business loves nothing more than a case study: something that makes it easy to sort out what the options are and how we can proceed. Unfortunately, no magic pill exists to lift us from our current challenges. We can look to the past, but we also need to look away for new solutions to our predicament.
-- DO take calculated risks. I believe it was Will Rogers who said that even if you're on the right track, you'll still get run over if you just sit there. I agree. This is a great time to take some calculated risks. OK, I'll admit that I'm probably the least "embracing of the status quo" guy that you'll probably ever meet. But risk-taking is now in all of our job descriptions, whether we like it or not. It's good to challenge your comfort zone on a regular basis. It keeps you feeling young.
-- DON'T isolate yourself. In tough times, networking can seem like a luxury. I couldn't disagree more -- networking is a power tool that becomes more valuable as the economy struggles. Don't limit your options by isolating yourself. Put regular effort into making new contacts and then following up with them when the situations dictate.
Build up your courage muscles and you won't have to worry about being a bag lady. Rather, you'll have success in the bag.
THE RIGHT STUFF, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
-- DO get everyone involved.
-- DO accept these are uncharted waters.
-- DO take calculated risks.
-- DON'T isolate yourself.
LIST OF THE WEEK
More Money, More Problems: Women and Money
-- 57 percent of women say they have more earning power than ever before.
-- 42 percent believe financially independent women are intimidating to men and often end up alone.
-- 31 percent say these women are hard to relate to and don't have many friends.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
"The worse the news, the more effort should go into communicating it." -- Andy Grove
(Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Also check out the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best-seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.)