To Get Over Fear In Your Career Let It Kick You In The Butt A Little

fight fear

The greatest single constriction that keeps us from reaching our goals, any goal, is fear. No matter what type of goal: personal, financial, career or spiritual, once you boil down all the reasons or excuses the limitation is fear.

I call it a constriction because it is like a choke hold on us, the longer it linger the more it squeezes the hope, joy or optimism from us when thinking of our goal. It suffocates the living breath of this goal.

One of the best ways I have heard to describe fear is: False Evidence Assumed Real.

Fear begins as a notion of unworthiness or inability. Your mind then manufactures or grabs on to things around you to support this idea and it then becomes “evidence”. You then accept this “evidence” as proof, becoming insurmountable and it becomes a reality that you are unable or unworthy.

All this from a notion.

We cannot always eliminate fear; however, I propose that we use it instead of letting it paralyze us. Here is how we can steer that notion for our intent and purpose.

Look fear in the eye and ask yourself, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen to me?”

Death. That is the worst possible outcome of anything.

So is this thing going to kill you? Be honest – is a career move or going after a promotion going to kill you?

No. Now get silly with it. Imagine going on an interview and completely bombing – then the floor is going to swallow you whole.

Or you will get faint from nerves, fall out of your chair, hit your head and there is your interviewer having to call an ambulance.

Can you imagine? That would seem mortifying, but that is a story that I would laugh at. Learn to laugh at the worst case scenarios. Make them bigger and give yourself the giggles.

Honestly, what most people think the worst case scenario would be is looking like a fool. So what? Is it the first time and really, is it going to be the last? Did you die the last time you looked like a fool? Then why would you this time?

The worst case scenario is the least likely –  face it, embrace it, laugh at it and let it go.

If you were not afraid, you would not want it. Another great saying is: there is no growth in your comfort zone. Would it not be wonderful if every time we were ready to stretch ourselves our pinky finger twitched uncontrollably? Think of it – a sure-fire, less physically exhausting way of letting us know that it is time.

Fear is our internal voice finding a way to get our attention. If you had an twitchy pinky finger, you might just ignore it or learn to live with it. Fear really gets your attention by engaging your mind and body.

Some part of you deep down is telling you that you are ready for more. Listen.

Now that you have a better perspective of fear, here is a secret to conquering it: let it kick you in the butt a little bit. Let it become the dismissive voice in your head that challenges you, not defeats you.

Get competitive!

One of the best ways to get me to do something is to tell me I cannot do it. I am a competitive person – just ask my family, son and boyfriend. I am competitive. Tell me I can’t do something then get out of my way because I am going to do it.

Some of my greatest successes came from this competitive spirit, despite fear.

At one point when I was in the financial industry I was in a new position and expected to get my Series 7 and others. It was at this time that my son’s father was diagnosed with cancer and was going through experimental chemotherapy treatments given a less than 10% survival expectation and our son was very young. I had a lot going on at the time and fear of passing these exams was not helping.

One day my boss told me to just try to pass the 7 and we will see what I could do on the others.  I think he meant it in a supportive way, given all that was going on with my family.

That was all it took.  My competitiveness side kicked in.  Oh, pity me and “see” what I can do without expecting anything?

A few months later I passed the 7, a few months later I then passed the 63, 65, 9 and 10. Tell me “try and we will see what you can do.” Ha!

When I had the idea to start my business, I was told it was a horrible idea, I would never succeed, I was ridiculous for even trying. Those statements at first fueled my fear. For a short time; then competitiveness kicked in.

Fear says, “You can’t do it”  Answer, “Shut up and watch me!”

That’s right – I told fear to shut up. The harder it kicked in the harder I fought back. Get pushed down seven times, get up eight.

Fear can deflate you, defeat you and leave you paralyzed unable to reach goals and dreams – or – it can motivate and fuel you. The choice is yours to make.


As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

So You are a People Person, Great. I am a Dog Person.



I mean, c’mon, what does that really mean?


You love working with all people? Doubt it. 

You communicate well with all people? Doubt it.


When I say I am a dog person, it conveys that I love all dogs.  Not exactly true.  I’m not a fan of little yippy dogs.  I like big dogs, Great Pyrenees is my favorite breed.  Anything under 60 pounds is, in my eyes, a small dog. Two of my three dogs outweigh me. 


The third is a Puggle, who reigns supreme over the other two; and she does not yip.


Saying you are a people person is an empty statement, a space filler and meaningless.  It truly does not describe you but rather conveys that you are a generalist.


Stop making generalizations about yourself.  There is nothing that will tune an audience of 1 or 100 out quicker than making generalizations.


Why?  Because they apply to no one.  Therefore, if it is not important, why listen?


When you are job searching, advancing in your career, engaging new clients or networking the one thing you do not want to happen is people tuning you out.  Game over.


You are not a generality, you are not insignificant; you provide or add value. 


The key is you have to discover how.


There may be many ways in which you do this so start with asking yourself the following questions and writing down your answers:


What do I do?

How do I do it?

Whom do I work with?

What is the benefit they receive from working with me? 


Now, if you were to use all the information you just gathered from the above questions you would have quite the lengthy elevator pitch and end up sounding like a yippy dog after the first minute or two. 


You don’t want to be a yippy dog; so let’s not stop there.


Now is the time to cut it down for impact.  Let me give you a bit of insight about the people you are talking to: we have a short attention span.  Please do not force us to try to politely concentrate for three minutes when we got lost after the first 15 seconds. 


It is painful.


We need to the point, attention-getting statements that peak our interest.  Give me something to hold on to a hook, a morsel.  If you blurt out everything about yourself what motivation do I have to continue the conversation?




I already know everything about you.


And odds are I have misinterpreted something.


Boil it down to the most important value that you bring and how it relates to me.


That is how you get my attention and that is how you get me to ask you a question and engage in conversation.


Yippy dogs keep yipping; big dogs bark less frequency and with more power.  Big dogs get attention, yippy dogs get ignored.


Be your own big dog.  They are awesome.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Job Block – Can’t See the Forest for the Trees


What I often discover when talking to clients about their current situations and thoughts about how they want to move forward is one of two things:


Tunnel Vision

Forest Syndrome


Their tunnel vision is a self-imposed captivity of only being able to see themselves in their current position.


The forest syndrome is not being able to see the forest from the trees.  They have become so entrenched in what they are doing or the “failures” of the past to be able to see a positive direction to move forward.


When you boil it down it is a matter of perspective.  We are sometimes too close to the situation that we can not evaluate it objectively or even in a hopeful manner.


Just because you have been doing a certain job for some time does not mean that is where you will always be – you are not stuck unless you allow yourself to be stuck.


This is a point when it is important to get another view point.  You need someone else to look objectively at your situation, skills and help you identify what you really want and not just what you think you can do.


Friends and spouses are well meaning but sometimes unable to help us, not of their own fault but our own.  Of course, sometimes they are not the best help because they want to be supportive and any type of criticism, even positive, would seem like a negative and unsupportive.


For example if you have asked a friend to review your resume and give input and the only thing they tell you is: it looks great, they are not helping.  You need constructive criticism.  If it was so great why are you not getting the call?


They need to tell you when what you have written does not make sense or does not really portray your value.  But they probably won’t because they don’t want to upset or challenge you.


Of course, you may not be able to take constructive criticism well because you are personally involved with them and take it as a personal attack.  Or you may brush off their helpful tips because you don’t think they really know what they are talking about.  If that is the case, why on earth did you ask for their help?


Sometimes we negate the ability for friends and family to help us because we are embarrassed.  Maybe we don’t really know what we want to do next.  Or maybe you have this crazy idea and don’t want them to think you have completely gone off the deep end.  So you keep it to yourself.


If job searching was easy you won’t need the help.  If you are not getting the results you want than odds are you need help.  Get over yourself and ask!  I have a wonderful support system, yet sometimes they can be a total pain in the rear when asking for help.


For example, if I am trying to fix something mechanical, electrical or structural in my house I know exactly who to ask.  He is an expert on these things and just happens to be my ex-husband – and one of my best friends.


This means he knows me very well.  If I need help with anything he is always there and always helps.  Recently, I had a bit of flooring work to do and asked for his help.  One of the first comments was something to the effect of “you think you know what you are doing but you don’t”.  It was not meant to be mean it was simply just a comment.  I just smiled and said I knew, that is why I was asking for his help.


I have learned to bite my tongue, remember it is not a personal jab, just a comment.  Let it go.  I also know that he will be very honest with me if I am doing something wrong and help me correct it because bottom line is he wants it done right and in my best interest.  So I learn to bob and weave the comments and sometimes, give a little jab back.


But he also gets me to see the bigger picture.  Maybe I could fix something my way, but it will cause problems for something else that I never even thought of.  I hate when that happens but that is why I ask him – because he can see the forest for the trees.


This is the person you personally know to help you.  If you have someone in your circle of friends that is honest, willing to give constructive criticism and you trust then ask them for help.  If the personal feelings are going to get in the way then don’t.


Ask for professional help.  We are not as scary as you think.


If nothing else there are plenty of career coaches or resume writers that will give you a critique of your resume.  Many for free – I do.  I think it important to give someone an objective viewpoint in order that they have the information they need to move forward.


One word of caution on the reviews – there are many sites out there that will give you a review and quite a lengthy one; read it carefully.


I have worked for national sites that offer these critiques and they are pretty much a standard format.  They give broad statements that make you feel like you have the worst thing penned to paper ever.  Wide reaching statements like “you have spelling and grammatical errors throughout the resume”.


Really?  Where?  I want to know you actually read it to point these things out.  Don’t fall for general statements that are scare tactics.


Whether it is a friend or professional assisting you ask questions!  Why do they think something needs to be changed?  What would they suggest and why in changing format, verbiage or anything else?


I want to know the whys.  Not just change this or do it this way but why.  What difference will it make or is it just something that they are saying to make themselves feel that they are adding value.


When you think you need help that is the time to ask.  But don’t just stop at asking for help, ask for clarification.  If their reasoning does not resonate with you then it is not a change you should make.  But you need to be willing to listen because maybe, just maybe, they are seeing something that you cannot and that could make all the difference.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Wanting and Having it All

“Love without affection or affection without love – which would you choose?”


I was posed this question the other day because, well, I’ve had both.  My answer was immediate:


“Neither – I want both.”


Apparently this took them by surprise for two reasons:

  1. I didn’t play by the rules – I had to pick one
  2. I was silly for thinking I could have both


And thus the debate began.  To justify their second objection to my answer I was told it was like finding that job that you love and it pays you well, you just can’t have it all.


Yes you can.


It may not be immediate and it may not be all wrapped up in the perfect little package that you have always envisioned, but yes, you can have it all.


The debate began to get a little dicey in a repeated argument of there is no job that you can love and get rich with it as well.


Someone tell that to Oprah.


I still think there is opportunity for love and affection and if you do not agree with me then that is your right.  But for goodness sakes do not tell me I am wrong!  It is my thought, my belief and my want so it isn’t wrong – it may be different, but it isn’t wrong.


I was thinking about this conversation later when I realized it is a matter of what we want, what we have, what we expect, what we settle for, what we dismiss and what we give up on.


In a job situation I truly believe you can find that job that you love and provides well.  But how do you define love?  The same principle applies to defining providing well.


You see I do love my job, and I can tell you why.


I have the opportunity to meet and work with an incredibly diverse group of people from all industries, levels, abilities and life experiences.  For each I am granted a glimpse into their life and give the opportunity to assist them in where they are to where they want to go.


I can utilize my creative side and my analytical side.  I loved compliance because it was very analytical but always longed to do something creative.  Now I have the best of both worlds.


I get to be as busy as I want to be and can take a Wednesday off to have a picnic in the park or see a baseball game in the middle of the day.


I get to be a part of some amazing organizations where I have met friends, colleagues and mentors.  I have the opportunity to present to groups and I love facilitating workshops and interacting with groups of people.  There is nothing better than leading a room full of people to an “a-ha” moment.


I am a very wealthy woman.  I am rich with family, friends, opportunities, adventures and possibilities.  I am hopeful for every single client, I care deeply, I laugh often and I can see the good and promise in every day.  That is how I define wealthy.  My job provides me with everything I need – and that is all I could ask for and more.


Having goals and dreams are fantastic, they give you fuel and desire.  Understanding what will meet the underlying needs is as important as having those goals and dreams.


I loved working in the financial industry, just not as much as I love what I do now.  That was my first crush, this is my true love.  If I was offered the opportunity to go back into it and have a very high-paying position I would have to say no.


Because I want it all and I know what my “all” happens to be.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

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