My Dog Just Might Help You Face The Fear In Your Career

Bandit Walking on Sunshine
Bandit – Walking on Sunshine!


Where do you want to go or do in your career? Are you there? Are you taking steps to get there? If not – what is holding you back?


There may be many answers to this question: time, money, education/certification, etc. but they can all be boiled down to one thing: fear.


It may seem that a lack of resources may be the cause, but if it is something you really want, you would find a way. Financially, get a second job. Time-wise, get up an hour earlier. I know these sound like easy answers and it is not always easy to find that time or extra income. Yet, I contend it is not lack of resources, but an abundance of fear.


I am not throwing stones – fear is my friend and foe that I have disguised as a resource limitation in order to avoid it. I saw a wonderful short video of Will Smith talking about jumping out of an airplane. Long story short, he was saying that the night before and every moment leading up to jumping out was full of fear yet the moment he was hurled out of that plane was sheer exhilaration. He rightly concluded that all that fear leading up to the moment was mind manufactured.


He did not say that last phrase, I made it up as a summary, but I really like that – mind manufactured. Our mind manufactures all sorts of things to stop us. It’s job is to keep us safe and we think fear is bad.


Fear is not a bad thing – it is a merely signal. A sign from your mind or body telling you it is time to grow or push yourself.


I was inspired to write this today because of my pup. Poor Bandit. Every morning and evening we talk a walk to a semi-forest lined field. The field was recently cut down so there was a lot more room to run and roam. This is where he does his business. Last night, while doing his business, something must have bit him in the butt. He gave a weird little yelp then came running over to me, tail tucked tight and kept sitting down the rest of the walk – as though guarding his little rear-end from anything else that might want to take a nip at him.


This morning, he hemmed and hawed alongside the field. The pup had to poop but was afraid of going back in that field. He is also finicky and does not poop on sidewalks or streets (thank goodness) so it was a necessity to go into that field. Eventually the need to poop won out and he gingerly went into the field. When mother nature called and he had to squat, he did so gingerly constantly looking around for unknown tushy attackers.


Nothing happened.


He then did the doggy kicking the ground after you poop thing and went happily along exploring the field and running around in the sunshine. That’s him in the picture above.


His fear was faced as a matter of necessity. Sometimes we are forced to face our fear and that is the best way – we have no choice. Once we face it, we have that rush of beating it. That is when I think fear is my friend. The one that throws you in to prove that you can swim. For example having to give a big presentation or being promoted to a new role only to realize we are really good at it


Fear is my foe when I let it linger and give it companions to stick around: no time, no resources, no idea of how I am going to do this thing I say I want to do.


There is a goal I want to achieve and I kept making excuses I just don’t have the time. The project is a little scary for me – it could turn our really well or land me flat on my face.


That’s when I realized it wasn’t about time. I have the time, but I am borrowing it for something else, almost. There is a project that has to be done and I don’t want to do it. It is a personal project that will take a lot of work, diligence and time. I am procrastinating about it. I am putting off this project, wasting time in doing so, that I could be using toward my project.


I am using the project to fuel my fear of failure. If I just buck up and get the project over with, I will have all that time to do work on my goal. It was my aha moment like my dog had: “I have to poop, I have to go in there to poop, the longer I meander out here the worse I have to poop. I’m going in.”


As for me, I have a whole afternoon booked to take a huge dent out of that personal project. I have set a timeline for myself to kick its butt and get it done. Then I start taking one step at a time on my goal. I get to mark things off my list (which always makes me happy) and move on.


If you are stuck in your career with a fear of moving forward or going for something else, you have two ways of breaking through that fear.


First is the Bandit way: think of it as a necessity. Stop looking at it from a possible failure aspect and look at it as you have to move up or on. Staying where you are is like Bandit prancing around the outside of the field – uncomfortable and possibly painful.


The second is the divide and conquer way: What is your fear? How are you mind manufacturing new ways of not facing that goal? Break that apart into smaller steps to conquer them one by one. When you take fear apart into pieces, you can take one step closer into that field of your goal and really enjoy running around in the sunshine.



A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.

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Unsticking Yourself

candle shadowI’ve been stuck this week and it bugs me to no end.


I am a very active person and I absolutely hate the idea of being stuck.  Whether it be writing, communication, accomplishing goals, taking action or finishing a load of laundry –  I’ve felt stuck and it is driving me crazy.


At first I blamed a busy few weeks.  Helping a friend remodel his house, work, writing, meetings, friends, dogs, family – you name it I was using it as an excuse of not getting things done.


But that is when a light bulb went off in my head:  when you start blaming it is because you are avoiding.


It is easy to blame.  I can’t get a job because of the economy, the industry, no one is hiring, no one has the money, no one appreciates my skills, and whatever other item you choose to insert here.


I’m not saying that those things are not factors; however they are not the be all end all reasons.


To find the reason you have to look inside.


That is where you need realize that blaming is the symptom and the cure is to face the thing inside you do not want to.  There is a truth there that you do not want to face.


You may be scared of starting over, you may be ashamed of something in your past, or you are afraid of failure.  Those are diseases which can be cured.


The cure is not easy or quick but it can be had: identify the issue, face the fear, forgive yourself for the fear, determine to push through it, make a plan and take action.


You are not going to change your world in a day; however with one tiny step you are on your way.  Sometimes that tiny step is a decision.


Perhaps you are spending too much time on activities that are not lending results or with people who are not in your best interest.  You need to make the decision to value yourself and your time over anything else.


Networking is a powerful tool; however if you are networking with people who do not genuinely care about you, your business, your goals and your value than odds are that they do not appreciate the quality of you.  And they are just sucking valuable time out of your day for what purpose?


Last Friday I went to dinner with a dear friend of mine.  She is also insanely busy but we were able to finally carve out some time just for us.  We had a fantastic dinner and conversation.  No matter how much time passes between our visits we each treasure the time we spend together because we value each other and our friendship.  That is quality time.


Later in the evening we saw some other people who where there because they didn’t have anything else to do.  They weren’t there to spend time with people because they cared or wanted to but rather because they had nothing better to do.


Which one values and cares about you?  There are plenty of time fillers, but finding people who are supportive and value you even if it is a handful are far more important and worthy of your time.


It is easy to hide behind blaming or avoiding when not wanting to deal with the truth; however for every possible negative to that truth there are positives, as well.  It is your choice how you decide to look at it.


You may have to start over but it is a new adventure ripe with opportunities, successes and lessons.  You may find more fulfillment that you ever had before and would never have know had you not tried.


That new job may not work out the way you want but it gives you a clearer understanding of just what you do want and perhaps a lesson in interviewing the company more thoroughly before accepting the job.


Your past is just that – the past.  You cannot change it but you can learn and grow from it.  If you have you will be able to demonstrate that and take pride in who you are, what you have gone through and how far you have come.  Realize you are not done, you still have a lot more value to give.


Getting unstuck does not depend on anyone else, it starts with you.


Often the truths that we fear are like shadows at night.  They loom and look fierce and scary but once full light is shed on them we realize that they are tiny objects that grew out of our own imagination.  We also see clearly that they are small obstacles in the path of the light that once removed the shadows disappear.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Fear – If You Create It You Have To Destroy It

I hate scary movies.  I was a pre-teen I watched only the first few minutes of a Friday the 13th (I don’t remember which one) and I was looking behind doors and curtains for a week.  I don’t like having the beeves scared out of me, not my idea of fun.


When I was a little girl I could curl up in a blanket with my favorite stuffed animal and wish fear away.  When I was a teenager I could steal my sister’s cigarettes, hide out under the deck and brood fear away.  When I was in my twenties I tried to bargain fear away.  In my thirties I tried to avoid fear and hoped it would go away.


Today I just sigh and said, “Fine, let’s get this party started.”


Fear doesn’t go away because we make a deal with ourselves, ignore it or hope it somehow disappears – fear always finds you.  Fear only goes away when we recognize that we created it and we are the ones that have to stand up to it and punch it in the nose.


We all face fear at some point in our life about different issues.  A lot of my clients have fears that can touch on the fear of being unemployed, rejected, seen as incompetent or a failure.  Sometimes it can be debilitating and devastating.


I also know that some may be thinking that it is very easy for me to be preaching from mount high because I do not know your situation so how can I possibly understand? Because fear is fear.  The degrees may be different, the situation may be different but when it all comes down to it: fear is fear.


It is created by a trigger – something happened that caused us to shift our perception or way of thinking.  This then grew into fear.  Sometimes the fear has gotten so overwhelming that we have forgotten the root cause.  It is like being stuck in a huge ball of tangled string and trying to find the tip of the string.


In job searching fear can cause you to stop searching, stop applying yourself and stop networking.  It can grow and cause you to become deeper in your fear and that mangled mess until we feel that we cannot move in any direction.


My best suggestion – get a pair of scissors and start snipping away at the individual strings.


Sit down with a notebook, a cocktail of choice (be it a coffee or martini – whatever works for you) and an open mind.


Start with writing down what you are afraid of – plain and simple.  Not getting a job, not doing well in the interview, not impressing the new boss, or simply just failure – whatever it is.


Then ask what else you are afraid of – this can lead to not being able to provide for your family, not getting a good job, not moving into the field you want, being demoted.  Keep asking yourself what you are afraid of – write it all down.


It is not a fun list and it can suck to have to write it down, but being able to see it helps make it more real – it just isn’t in your head any more.


Then ask yourself: what happens if I fail, what is the worse that can happen?


If the answer does not include death – you’re ahead of the game.


Keep asking yourself what could happen if you do fail.  Write it all down.  Sometimes we make things much more irrational in our head and when we see it on paper we can look at it and ask ourselves, “Really?  I don’t think I can single-handedly cause the fall of western civilization.”


Now here is the kick in the butt phase.  Ask yourself what you are doing to prevent the worse case scenarios.  Be honest.  Writing down that you are sending out 50 resumes a week is not a solution.  First of all if you are sending out the same resume to 50 different jobs then you do not qualify for any of them.  Second of all simply sitting at home at the computer sending out resume after resume is not an action-oriented results-guaranteed game plan.


Take ownership and action.


What are you doing?  Next ask yourself what are the results of your actions?  You should begin to see a correlation forming.


So what is it going to take?  Once you can write some action steps here comes another hard part – what are you afraid of in doing those actions?  You know what to do but fear is holding you back.  So what is the fear of performing those actions?  And again, what is the worse case scenario for not doing them?


I’ve had a struggle this week and I’m not preaching from mount high – I did this.  What I realized is by being afraid of taking steps I’m keeping myself within my struggle.  Take that first small step.  Yes, it can get worse, but odds are it will get better.  Maybe just a little bit for a part of the day but it is a step.


Fear is like being in a bad relationship.  Stick with me on this one.


Have you ever had a boss, co-worker or significant other that just never approved of what you did, no matter what?  Always criticizing, complaining or making you feel like you couldn’t do anything right?  At some point you reach a point and say, “You know what, I’m going to do what I want because you are going to hate it anyway.”


That small step starts to bring you more confidence and lessens their hold.  Same thing with fear.  That’s why I said I sigh and say bring it on.  The fear will still be there even if I take steps forward so come on if you are going to be on this ride with me, might was well acknowledge it is there.  I’m still going to move forward and the more I do the more I see fear start to fade.


Look at your fears in black and white and realize the hand that wrote them is the hand that is holding you back.  What you want is within you as is the ability to achieve it.  It may not be easy but it is there and faith in yourself can pack one heck of a punch and knock fear out cold.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

Picking Locks And Opening Doors

I want it all. Yes, I said it – out loud and in print for all the world to see.

I want my family and friends to be blessed with good health emotionally, physically and financially. I want peace on earth, the Cubs to win a World Series, a cure for all cancers and childhood illnesses. I want dogs that mind all the time, the house to remain clean for more than a day or two and snow only on Christmas day. I want to be known as the Career Coach/Strategist for college athletic teams, I want all my client’s to reach every one of their goals and I want to improve every day on my skills and abilities. I want the fat bank account that allows me to travel through America and Europe while being able to continually give generously to charities I believe in. One day I’ll want a partner who is my best friend, lover, partner in crime, understands I need my own space, gets my sarcasm and appreciates who I am as a person and who can always make me laugh even if I don’t want to.

Pretty big list, I know, but it is my list. I think everyone should have an “I want it all” list. It helps us really figure out what is important to us and why. It also helps us determine what we are willing to take second best for the time being until the right thing comes along.

Many times when I’m working with clients it is right in front of us that where they want to be is a step or two away, and therefore some “settling” steps must be taken before they reach their ultimate goal. The big title position is the ultimate goal; however to get there they may need to take a lesser position to gain the experience that they need to take over that dream job. That is an acceptable settle. It is part of a plan – it is making a decisive step to reach what you really want.

Too often we give up on our dreams and settle because we are afraid of either actually achieving or fear that we can’t achieve our goal. I had a very dear friend of mine who was afraid of the success and settled, he told me that his current job wasn’t what he wanted, but it wasn’t bad – he could live with it the rest of his life. I smacked him, out of love of course.

Look I get that sometimes you need to settle, but if you are make sure it is for the right reasons. Some things I will settle on in the interim, some I’m just going with the flow and some I refuse.

I’m going with the flow knowing my house is a welcoming home and it will never look like a BHG showcase, as long as I live in Indiana snow will always here after Christmas and my dogs – yeah well, I love them anyway. I don’t even want to hear any comments about the Cubs – period!

I will always support the American Cancer Society, Riley Hospital and other organizations that fight for the cures. I refuse to give up hope.

In building my business there are some jobs that I have had to take on that maybe I didn’t really want to, but I got bills to pay and I choose to look at them as every experience is a lesson. I know I’m going to reach all my goals, even if I have to take a break and settle a bit now and then along the way. This I can be flexible on because I’m in control of this one.

If you are taking a job to help you move forward then I’m in your corner. If you are taking it as a signal of defeat then I’ll want to smack you too. That’s like being with the wrong person just to be with someone. It is easy, you don’t have to work for it and you don’t have to worry about being hurt because you are not invested.

That’s not a way to live! If you don’t love what you do or who you are committed to then get out. Find your passion, figure out what steps you need to do to realize it and make some moves. Yes, you may have to take a step back in jobs to ultimately move forward but at least you would be making movement.

Fear isn’t a bad thing. When I first started my business I was terrified and it was a motivator. At one point I used it as a “I’ll show you” factor. I am vested in this, I have opened my heart and soul to my business and leave myself open for painful lessons but that’s how I experience my greatest joys and successes – I allow the fear. If you are afraid of taking on a new job because you don’t know if you will be successful then go for it and use that fear for your benefit.

It’s like finding the right person. There is some part of you that they absolutely scare the crap out of – that fear of being hurt or rejected. You have two choices: be afraid and run away – or – go for it.

Very recently my best friend hit me upside the head with the proverbial 2×4. She pointed out in her blunt and loving manner that I was queen of running away always making sure that my fear was not realized. Oh sure, I never got hurt, but I never allowed someone the opportunity to get past the security system. I hate when she is right.

So I made a conscious decision a few weeks ago and against everything that I engrained in myself I let go. Yesterday, last week, last month – all gone. The slate is clean – it is today, right now that mattes, I’ve opened myself up and guess what – it ain’t bad. With a clean slate, a new perspective and acceptance of wanting it all I’m not going to settle because I know that my partner in crime will be picking the lock.

For the things that you have control of – unlock your own doors and pick your own locks to take the steps you want to take so you can start checking off items on your own want it all list.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.