You Gotta Keep Yourself Scared


Lately, I’ve been writhing with dissatisfaction. I have no idea where it’s coming from or why I’m feeling it, which makes it incredibly difficult to find a way to stop it. I end my days feeling unsettled, mildly unhappy, and completely bewildered. Little things tick me off. I sometimes overreact, and this makes me behave in a way that I don’t like. I’ve been twisting this new mentality around in my mind for the last few weeks, trying to solve the mystery of just what the hell is going with me.

My lightbulb moment came as I was self-lurking my LinkedIn profile and reflecting on my career of 3 years ago. Back then, I was thrown into things so far out of my depth that I had to run as fast as I could to make sure I could make them happen. I was quietly terrified all the time – sitting in meetings with people two or three times my age and having them actually listen to me. I was leading the meetings – I was telling one of the largest companies on the planet what to do, and they were doing it. All I really had to rely on at that point was mild creativity and a lot of common sense. I certainly didn’t have the years of experience to know what I was doing. I was making it up as I went along. And I was succeeding. Not every time, but most of the time. In retrospect, it’s astounding. At the time, it was motivating.

Reflecting back on that time in my career is humbling, and it’s also helped me uncover what I think is wrong with me. I’m not scared anymore.

I know what I’m doing now. I rarely get put into situations in my career where I feel out of my league. But maybe I need that. Whenever I felt like that in the past, I usually managed to reach down deep somewhere and pull out something groundbreaking. I have the years of experience, and have probably packed more experience into those years than many people do in an entire career. But I think I’m coming to a point where even my dynamic and social career is starting to feel repetitive and monotonous. Where I know more than I don’t know. And after that, it just becomes splitting hairs and debating the best way to phrase the idea, instead of the idea itself. And I’m the type who prefers substance over style.

So I’ve taken the first step: I’ve identified the problem. And though I have absolutely no idea what form the solution will take yet, I know that I gotta keep myself scared.

Scared to Death

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