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Can Fear Turn Into Success and Happiness?

Picture this…

I am 21 years old and working for a multi-million dollar marketing company. It’s a Friday at 2pm, approximately 2 1/2 months after I started. Being the top sales producer out of my 50+ person training class had landed me a promotion to Assistant Manager in training. I had been studying my 13-page, 60-minute-long, group interview script for a month now. That day, I had 2 back-to-back interviews scheduled.

These group interviews were typically 6-8 people big. Maybe 10 people would show up and fill out applications. I would then screen the applicants (2 or 3 at a time) and hold a group interview for the candidates I felt were a good match for this job of selling Cutco Cutlery – a fantastic program designed for college students to gain experience in the workplace.

First interview – 105 degrees outside – I’m still considered very new at interviewing and I was alone in the office with one receptionist to greet the applicants. My palms were sweating as I frantically tried to whisper the interview words aloud so I didn’t look a fool. On this Friday, 29 applicants came barreling in the door 15 minutes prior to the start time. Complete shock, fear, and stomach sickness took over.

This is one of many times I can think of where I had to think fast in the workplace. A greatly challenging situation was thrust at me and I was forced to rely on my unique set of skills to get through.

  1. I wanted to prove to my manager that I could handle an interview that was almost 3 times larger than any interview I had run in the past. I was always studying the next step in every job I had – and this was definitely going to get me to that next step faster. (See a previous post, “Hiring a Project Manager Who Can Get Stuff Done!” for what happened next.)
  2. These people showed up because they needed a job and I was going to be the only one to determine A) If they got it, and B) If they showed up to training because of how I presented the information.
  3. Ever hear that phrase, “Fake it ’til you make it”? That was at the forefront of my mind. I had a job to do and I had to at least act as if I was not in fear. I couldn’t let that transfer to my audience.

Sales Conference Winning Office
Basically, I had to rely on myself in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. Mostly because I was so young, but still. We are all faced with challenges that force us out of our comfort zone and into the wide open field for all to witness. Amazing things happen when you reach this level of newness.

There are lots of people in the world who sit back and think, “If only I had a bigger house”, or “If only I had a better job”. I wonder sometimes how those people got to that place in their life…where they just felt stuck.

I’ve never been in that place and I imagine it’s a pretty lonely place to be. I’ve reflected on why I have this itch to constantly challenge myself, to always grow stronger and work better, live better, and love stronger. Was it my parents? There’s a really, really good chance of that! Was it Vector? The managers who instilled in me that I can do anything, be anybody, and succeed at the highest levels? There’s a really good chance of that too. I think a thing to add is that these challenging situations show us what we’re really made of.

If I hadn’t gone in with the most confidence I could muster to run that interview, what would have happened? By the way, my interview ran a lot longer than 60, even 90 minutes. By the time I was done with that first interview, 15 people had already arrived for my second interview. By the end of the day, I looked at the numbers. 29 applicants showed up for my first interview and I invited 25 to stay. 27 applicants showed up for my second interview and I invited 24 to stay. The two biggest interviews of my career all happened in one day, 3 hours apart. Needless to say, I was tired at the end of that workday!

So, why did I even spend a blog post talking about this? I think lately more than ever, we’ve been forced into some insanely difficult moments. Job loss, divorce, getting older, children’s behavior issues, unfair stress in the workplace, pay reduction, more bills, hurt credit scores, foreclosures, car troubles – it has happened to us all.

BUT, there is so much good happening out there too!! We don’t even hear the half of it because of the news setup. It is in moments of fear that we stretch and grow ourselves to become the best versions of ourselves. It is a decision. You must trust the process, show up, and get through whatever challenge you face. Only then can you push past that fear and grow into the next phase of your life.

I’ll end with a quote…

“When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show it that you have a thousand reasons to smile.”

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