A thought exercise in overcoming fear: Taking the leap

Whether it is a new project manager or an experienced project manager encountering an unknown situation, taking a leap is the only way to overcoming fear.

“Many a false step was made by standing still.” – Fortune cookie

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” – Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister

In presenting this thought experiment, I want to help those frozen by fear. An industry change can be a scary thing. Going from construction to health care to IT is a possible transition for a project manager. At each step, fear of the unknown can inhibit someone.

Instead of pursuing opportunities, one becomes comfortable with the status quo. You have a handle on how your team and organization communicate. You know what is expected of you. You have solidified your role. Any change to that is fear-inducing. Let us start to crack the code of fear.

“If you are nervous about making the jump or simply putting it off out of fear of the unknown, here is your antidote. Write down your answers, and keep in mind that thinking a lot will not prove as fruitful or as prolific as simply brain-vomiting on the page. Write and do not edit – aim for volume. Spend a few minutes on each answer” (Ferriss, 2016)

I am going to present to you with my personal experience of a recent job change.

 1. “Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering.”

The new boss and team do not respond well to my working style, and I am out of a job before it gets started. I leave a comfortable position with a defined role for something that gives me more input and creative control.

This personal responsibility is something new. There are no set guidelines for how work is to be performed other than getting the job done. The communication channels went from a few to fifty. A few stakeholders and owners are very manageable. Tens of stakeholders and owners can be overwhelming. One wrong step early feels like certain termination.

2. What steps could be taken to fix the damage or get things back on track (long-term or temporarily)?

Job loss would not be the first and probably not the last. Having an updated resume and cover letter helps to begin a job search immediately if necessary. Reaching out to the old employer is an option considering I left that job on good terms.

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