Whatever You Do, Don't Do This

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Today I want to share with you something that struck me recently: the fact that sometimes I get in the way of my own success. It's amazing how we don't see it, isn't it? We think it’s the outside world, but the truth is we sabotage ourselves more often than not. So today I thought I'd help us all get out of our own way.

Here’s what happens: You see an opportunity, and you feel that telltale flip in your stomach that tells you that you really want whatever this is… this new role, new job, new relationship. It’s so perfect for you that you ache for it to be yours! You know what I’m talking about. That desire for something new that makes you feel alive!

But… it’s gonna be a reach, and you know it. You’d have to grow. Even stepping on your tippy toes, this one’s a stretch.

So you envision the cost: potentially embarrassing failure. Because what if you get the opportunity and you blow it? Terrifying! Or what if you apply and they shoot you down without even giving you a chance? 

And maybe the very fact that you want it so much is what's holding you back. The potential of getting your heart broken is scary. Understood. Trust me... been there.

So... this is where some of us take ourselves out. We decide we’d rather settle for the known entity than take the risk and potentially fail or get turned down. 

If you can relate to this, I want you to know you’re not alone. I’ve felt this. But whenever I feel tempted to hold back, I remember something my friend and mentor Lori Jones Gibbs said to me (thank you, Lori!).

“Don’t self eliminate,” Lori said. “Somebody else might say no to you, but don’t do it to yourself.”

With that spirit, I’ve repeatedly put myself out there for roles I knew were just out of reach—and then, once the opportunity became a reality, I grew into those positions. 

So here’s my three nuggets of wisdom for you today: 

  1. Whatever you do, don't take yourself out of the game. Give it everything you’ve got. Put your best foot forward, and lean on your current skills, your lived experience, and your voice. 
  2. Let someone else tell you this isn't the right time or it isn't a right fit. But you? You should never be the one to shut the door on yourself.
  3. Be prepared to hear you didn’t get the opportunity. If you decide to go all in and take the big chance, good for you! Just know that sometimes that risk may not pay off the way you envisioned. And that’s fine! Just don’t self eliminate.
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