Fear – how to manage it

Fear in the workplace.  This fear keeps us from speaking up, using our voice, asking for the raise, asking for the promotion, offering our opinion, showing our value.

I think the best I’ve ever heard is a book called the Imposter Syndrome.  Where our fear makes us believe we’re frauds and if we speak up, it will be proven true.  There are multiple books out there.  I haven’t read many of them so I can’t provide a recommendation.  I would focus on a book where the reviews speak to you, where the book cover connects with you.

Another option is to prepare for your battle.  Let’s say this particular battle is your annual performance review.  You feel like you should get a raise but how do you go about this?  Start with documenting why you think you should get a raise – what actions did you take to improve the company (focus on what made your boss look good).  I’m not referring to actions that saved your company millions or revolutionized your industry – that’s not normal life.  Life is about the small moments – helping your customers on a regular basis, improving our team’s reputation by consistently delivering on what is being requested, etc.  Write it all down – be factual, be brief but be complete.  If you feel prepared, you feel confident.  Practice a few key paragraphs that put it all together – what differentiates you and why you are an asset to your team and to your company.  Know that they are true and say them with confidence.   What if your particular battle is speaking up in meetings?  Start with sending your comments to your manager after the meetings and see what response you get.  If they are positive responses, this will give you the confidence to speak up when the time is right.  If they are not positive, ask why – learn more about what matters to the company, so your ideas match their culture.

In all instances, fear is managed by confidence.  Think of it as a teeter-tooter.  If fear is up, then confidence is down and if confidence is up, then fear is down.  Fear is good in a lot of situations – don’t go into dark alley ways, stay away from serial killers in the elevators, if the food smells bad – it is.  But if it keeps you from using your voice, standing up for yourself, knowing what’s right, feeling strong about who you are – then you need to practice more.  Practice speaking up using a LOUD voice – in the shower is fine as that’s a great start.  Even if your practice is a made up scenario – practice gives us the confidence to carry it forward in real life.

You are ENOUGH.  Your voice MATTERS.  YOU MATTER.

Fuel for the Future

I bet you were thinking I was going to say solar energy…or maybe wind energy…or let’s turn plastic waste into energy…all good ideas but not where I was going today.

Nope – nothing earth shattering or outwardly revolutionary.  I’m thinking about our internal fuel – what helps us move forward.  What is the fuel that lives within ourselves? Think of all the stories you hear of people rising from adversity.  It that the fuel that pushes them forward?

Yes.  Our stories and our dark places give us the motivation to push forward.  Of course, those dark places give us fear and doubt that can keep us locked.  A quote I saw recently was ‘Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you in better conditions’ Hafiz. 

Fear and doubt keep us quiet, keep us from living, keep us from speaking up, keep us from sharing our voice.  When you look around your office today – think about the fact of each and every one of your have dark places – some darker than others.  Even those happy and outgoing people can have some of the darkest places.  The outside is no indication of the inside.

I’ve been on a journey these last 5 years – not an intentional one but a clear, driven journey none-the-less.  With the benefit of hindsight, I see a hard journey with lots of walking on hot coals, lots of stripping away the past – the fear – the doubt – the worry.  I have cleaned more dark corners than I ever thought could exist in my heart.  Each step forward gave me confidence for the next steps.  Each cleaned corner made me feel lighter, more at peace, more comfortable, more confident.  It’s my fuel to reach higher, to write more honestly, be more open, be vulnerable. 

Our fuel is our dark places, our dark corners, our pains and our scars.  As we work to clear them out and face them, we feel stronger and have more courage.You can do it.  You are ENOUGH.

Expectations and Communication

Expectations can be good, but I’ve seen many times when they are a core problem. 

When your boss thinks you can code the next rocket into space, but you’ve only learned how to start the coffee maker….When you think you should be promoted but your boss thinks you’ve only barely learned to do your current job on your own….When you’re expected to answer 100 phone calls an hour, there’s only you, and each call lasts 5 minutes.….When you’re expected to smile every moment of your day, but you are coming down with the flu….You were hired to be the project manager but now you’re the personal assistant to the Vice President.

I could go on – these are all real and I’ve seen every one of them.

Communication, communication, communication.  It is the most important thing we need, and it is the most difficult thing to do.

If the expectations are off, then you must speak up.  Every day that they remain out of line, the gap widens as bitterness and the feelings of unfairness grow.  An easy first step is to write up what you see.  Be careful to use phrases such as “I believe” and “what I’ve seen” because you do not know everything, and you do not see everything.  Sleep on it, make sure there are no ‘very’, ‘never’, or ‘always’ and remove all the strong adjectives – they make everything harder. Then, send it off asking for some time on their calendar.  This method gives the other party time to adjust to what you want to say and what you want them to hear.  Most likely, they’re experiencing frustration too, so they need a moment to get past their own issues and begin to problem solve with you.

When you’re the most frustrated, it’s pretty much guaranteed to mean that there is critical information you don’t have.  This critical information will make everything make sense.  And that’s what you’re hoping to get.  In the process of finding out more information, the expectations will be identified, and most likely will get adjusted to become closer to reality.

In some cases, you’ll find out where your own lines are.  Maybe that VP is a narcissistic and you need to find a new job.  Maybe you’re the only one answering the calls because everyone else quit as your management is not concerned with your well-being.  It is always best to find these things out quickly especially as it will help reduce your own bitterness.

Communication, communication, communication.  It’s everything.

What if it mattered?

 mead quote

What if? What if your team became ‘thoughtful, committed citizens’ to your vision? What if your team felt so strongly about their work – with you as their motivator – that they enjoyed coming to work? What if they found the ability to recover from the inevitable pitfalls to truly succeed – success being feeling happy with their work life?

We find happiness in our life (work and professional) when it matters to us.  We succeed because we found something that matters to us.  We change the world a little step at a time when it matters to us.

Matter in your own life.  Become ‘thoughtful, committed citizens’ to your own world and the big world (even your office) will get a little bit better – or maybe even a whole lot better.


Making the impossible feasible, then successful


Case Study: Project in Flames


Returned to a old client to complete a Big Data conversion project.  The architecture was bleeding edge technology and not working as expected, the team was drowning in nine different integration and testing environments, and the entire project lacked focused attention. Using only email for tracking per management: coordinated the releases into each environment, tracked the constantly changing purposes for each environment, and handled inconsistent management attention along with an aggressive timeline. All new deadlines were met without any further delays and the client was very happy.