Something sank in the pit of Rob’s stomach. He was at a company dinner with his wife, Sharon, and the two of them had spent the previous hours getting ready and dressing sharp in order to impress the visiting regional manager of Rob’s company, in whose hands were resting the authority to grant Rob the promotion that he had been hoping to get for the last year and a half. Rob had been mentally rehearsing the routine that he was going to follow for the evening since last week, when a company-wide email went out saying that Jim Stokes, the regional manager himself, was going to be attending the fancy event.
Rob had painstakingly planned it all out. He was going to make his way over to Mr. Stokes and introduce himself confidently, and he had been working on memorizing the best jokes that Google can find as a fall back option in case the conversation became a bit dull.
The person occupying the position with the company that Rob was after was due to retire in a few months, and he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he had the skills necessary to jump in and do a good job in the role. The person in this role reported directly to Mr. Stokes, so it was incredibly important for him to make a good impression at this dinner.
But as Rob and his wife watched as Jim Stokes entered the dining hall dressed to the nines and was immediately surrounded by a group of people with smiles and handshakes that came straight out of How to Win Friends and Influence People, Rob was suddenly rooted to the spot with fear.
Doubts began to fill his mind about his qualifications, and he began to hear a voice inside of his head telling him, You are nowhere near good enough for this job. Look at all those other people that are talking to him. Alice from accounting could run circles around you. Jake from marketing is way smarter and definitely funnier than you are. Why would someone like Jim Stokes want to talk to a middle aged, boring washout like me? Rob’s shaky sense of confidence that he felt just a few minutes earlier was suddenly underwater, sunk beneath the crushing weight of self-doubt and fear.
And you know what? I think Rob is a whole lot like the rest of us.
There is something funny that happens to us when we are faced with the situations and opportunities that can lead to our personal growth and development as a human being. Whether it’s a new job position that we could interview for, a new opportunity to speak up at a meeting, or our kids asking us difficult questions about life that we don’t really know the best answer to, we are often confronted with a voice inside our heads that tells us that we are not good enough and that there is someone better out there for the role we are trying to fill.
But here’s the thing. Rob has been faithfully working with his company for a number of years and knows that within himself lies the skills necessary to do the job he hopes to be promoted into. So why is he filled with a sense of disqualification when he sees Mr. Stokes at the company dinner?
The answer is fear.
Fear is one of those things that is unable to be detached from the human experience. No matter who you are, no matter how hard you try, we sometimes just feel afraid. In the case of Rob, he is suddenly feeling what a lot of people feel in make or break situations: The fear of not being good enough.
Dearest reader, whether you have ever found yourself in the same situation as Rob or in a host of other places where you felt you weren’t good enough, there is something I need to let you know.
Fear is a thief.
The biggest thing that fear does is steal. It steals our money when we are afraid that we don’t have enough. It steals our confidence when we are afraid that others will think we are dumb or awkward. It steals relationship with our children when we withdraw out of fear that we aren’t a good father or mother. And truth be told, we draw back out of fear that the world just might find out how scared, weak, and vulnerable we really are when no one’s watching.
But I have good news for you. Despite your feelings of weakness or your feelings of fear, you were created by God to be someone who is bold, someone who is courageous, and someone who is willing to fight for the things that are most important in life.
Life is a battle at times, and unfortunately fear doesn’t just politely knock on the door and ask to come in and share over a cup of herbal tea. It sneaks in the window and shows up when you least expect it with a knife in its hand. Just as when any thief breaks into your house, when fear does confront us, it requires us to make a choice. We can either surrender to it or we can fight it.
My call to you is that the next time you find yourself hearing the voice of fear in your head that you make the conscious choice to be brave. Bravery doesn’t mean you don’t feel afraid. It just means that you aren’t going to let your feelings of fear determine the life that you are going to live.
In Rob’s case, he is at risk of disqualifying himself from a great position with better pay simply because he is afraid that he doesn’t have what it takes to do the job. If he allows fear to talk him into not trying, then he will certainly never have a shot at the better role. But if he says to himself, “You know what? Stuff it, I don’t care if my knees are shaking, I am going to talk to this guy and tell him goofy jokes even if it kills me, I NEED to show him that I am the right guy for the job,” then he might just find himself sitting at a new desk in a few months with a few more people around the office referring to him as “Sir.” But if he doesn’t take action to fight fear, he will never be able to know what could be.
Don’t let fear talk you out of being the best that you can be. I will leave you lastly with a quote from former US President Theodore Roosevelt, whose famous statement below has inspired many across generations to refuse to be talked out of pursuing and fighting for their dreams.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”