Back in college, I remember reading a quote that has always stuck with me: "Fear is talent wasted in thought."
We get so used to being in our comfort zone and when opportunity knocks, we tend to overthink our actions because we are scared and we miss out. No one likes the feeling of regret. I think about all of the times when I wish I had introduced myself to someone or asked someone a difficult question - I wish I could just yell at myself – “Don’t overthink it Allison!! Just do it!!”
I recently turned 30, and while my parents and more seasoned mentors will say I’m still just a child, I like to think I have experienced quite a bit in my first 30 years of life. As I reflect on my life, personally and professionally, the key moments that stand out always involve making risky decisions.
Whether it’s jumping out of an airplane with a skydiving instructor who doesn’t speak English; or asking your boss if you can take three months off to travel the world;or deciding to leave my friends & family to move across the country to pursue a unique career opportunity…. those decisions were not easy and came with a fair amount of risk. But where would I be if I didn’t make those decisions? Definitely not where I am today.[pullquote align="right" color="" class="" cite="" link=""]“Fear is talent wasted in thought.” [/pullquote]
In 2014, my husband’s company offered him a fantastic opportunity to open their second location in San Francisco. It was such an incredible opportunity for him. While most people’s initial reaction would be, “It’s a no-brainer! San Francisco is awesome!” My reaction was not. I loved my life in Chicago. I loved my job, my condo, my close group of friends, and my Sunday night family dinners. I would have to give all of that up.
This was a very difficult decision for me. Do I tell my husband he can’t take the promotion? Do I tell my boss? When I talk to my boss, do I just give my two weeks notice and start a new life in SF? Or do I try to come up with an alternative plan so I can make both options work? I wish they taught you this stuff in college!
Luckily, I work at LaSalle. I felt comfortable talking to my boss about the decision and my concerns, and the company worked with me to find a solution: they asked me to stay with LaSalle, offering the incredible opportunity to open our new office in San Francisco.
All of the pieces were falling in to place. But the tough decisions were just getting started. Opening a new office is not easy and it means making sacrifices. It means cancelling vacations, working long hours, and missing happy hours with my prospective new friends. In my mind I was thinking, “What if I fail? What if my CEO regrets his decision to let me do this? What if I get fired?” I was afraid. But what if I didn’t do it? Would I regret it? I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try. I kept reminding myself of that quote: “Fear is talent wasted in thought.”
As a recruiter, I talk to professionals all day about their careers; the decisions they’ve made and the results of those decisions. The people who impress me the most are always the ones who make risky decisions – the unemployed candidate who takes a step back in pay for a good job that provides more stability and long term career growth, or the entrepreneur who gives up a six figure salary to follow their passion and start their own company.
Not every decision is going to be the right one and there will probably be failures, and that’s ok. It’s how we learn from our mistakes and grow to become stronger professionals. Pick up the phone and make a cold call, talk to the stranger in the elevator, go to a networking event alone, talk to your manager about taking on additional responsibilities, ask for forgiveness and not permission – not all risky decisions are “big ones.” Just push yourself to break out of your comfort zone and you will naturally evolve in to a stronger person. And when the “big decisions” present themselves, they won’t be as scary.
At 30 years old, I can’t say I’ve experienced it all and I know that it’s not all calm seas ahead. I know there will be hardships, failures, and tough decisions in my future. But I am prepared for them and I am ready to make those tough decisions when they present themselves. Don’t let fear waste the talent that you have!
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