I was working with a volunteer Board of Directors on the weekend when we introduced the subject of succession planning. While everyone enjoyed being on the BOD, there was a real fear of stepping into the presidential succession. The members felt they couldn’t do it and the BOD needed a succession plan!
If it doesn’t make you nervous to do it; it isn’t a challenge, or you aren’t interested. Those butterflies in your tummy tell you that not only are you interested, but you care enough to do a good job.
That’s perfect! That nervousness says you should consider whatever it is that is making you nervous.
Are you nervous about making a presentation at lunch to your colleagues? Good! Nervous about deciding to get your professional accreditation? Good! Nervous about not only joining an association but choosing to become a volunteer and get involved (even if it isn’t president)? Good!
I’ve never jumped out of a perfectly good airplane like skydivers do. Does it make me nervous to think about it? Not a bit. Because I know that not only do I have no desire to do that, but I will also ensure that I don’t need to worry about it, as the answer will always be “no!” I’m not nervous. I’m not willing. There is a difference.
Are you nervous about getting your MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) designation? For some of you, you are not even remotely nervous for the same reason I’m not nervous about skydiving. It isn’t going to be on the radar for you, so why get nervous about it? However, if you have thought about it (or any other professional designation) and it makes you nervous, ask yourself why it does that.
If it makes you nervous to consider getting it, those butterflies tell you they are interested in the designation but aren’t confident they can do it.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but it does tell that deep down inside, you want it.
If you are saying no to things because you are nervous, you miss great opportunities! That nervous energy (butterflies) is good and not harmful. We need to reframe our perspective on nervousness. In fact, being nervous can be a sign that you genuinely care about doing a good job.
You should say yes!
Nervousness Indicates Investment
When you feel nervous, it’s a clear indicator that you are invested in the outcome. Whether it’s your career, relationships, or personal goals; nervousness demonstrates a genuine concern about the results. It’s a sign that you want to perform to the best of your abilities and that you understand the significance of the task at hand. This emotional investment is a powerful motivator, driving you to put in the extra effort necessary for success.
When I married Warren, I was nervous. I was a little nervous about walking down the aisle as I didn’t want to trip! And I was nervous because I had had one failed marriage and certainly didn’t want another one. I am/ was invested in making this work! And, I didn’t trip either (probably because of the enhanced focus and preparation).
Nervousness Enhances Focus
Nervousness can sharpen your focus. When you’re nervous, your brain kicks into high gear, and you become acutely aware of the situation. This heightened awareness can be incredibly beneficial in ensuring that you pay close attention to the details, avoid mistakes, and make more calculated decisions. In essence, your nervousness can lead to a greater level of mindfulness, which is crucial for doing a good job.
Think about being nervous about sitting at a table filled with the CSuite. You may be very comfortable with the people around the table but may be nervous about objecting to or suggesting an idea. You’re nervous because you want to say/do the right thing and avoid looking stupid. Why? Because you care about your reputation at work.
Nervousness Spurs Preparation
Nervousness often ensures you prepare thoroughly. The fear of failure that accompanies nervousness can push you to study, practice, and rehearse to a level that you might not have otherwise. This additional preparation is a sure-fire way to improve your performance, ensuring that you are well-equipped to tackle the task. In this way, nervousness is a motivating force that drives you to be more prepared, which is essential for success.
If you stepped up and volunteered to do a lunch-and-learn at work, you would prepare yourself to make sure you knew what you were talking about.
Nervousness Promotes Growth
Embracing nervousness can lead to personal and professional growth. When you care about doing a good job and acknowledge your nervousness as a sign of that care, you’re more likely to step out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges. Over time, confronting your nerves and succeeding despite them can lead to increased self-confidence and a more extensive skill set. Each experience of overcoming your nervousness can be a stepping stone toward growth. Think about the things you’ve already done that made you nervous the first time you did them!
Everyone I know who stepped into the role of president in their association had enough butterflies to pick them up off the ground. And all of them have been grateful they said yes because of all they learned. You can do more once you confront the situation and build confidence.
Nervousness Builds Resilience
Facing nervousness head-on can help you build resilience. Not every situation will go as planned, and failure is a natural part of life. However, those who embrace their nervousness and learn to cope with it tend to bounce back more quickly after setbacks. They develop a stronger ability to adapt, learn from their experiences, and keep pushing forward, ultimately becoming more resilient.
Nervousness has not always ensured I completed the goal I set. It does mean that I tried hard though and didn’t brush it off as not important.
It is scary, but it is so rewarding. Ask yourself what makes you nervous to even think about doing it with your career, and then tell yourself that you will do it anyway!
You’ve got this!