I can’t tell you how many people I know, from seasoned professionals to students, who are actively worried about not finding a job, not being able to grow at work, or losing their job.
For those looking for work, there are all types of assumptions about what’s holding them back. Some believe its race, gender, sexuality, physical appearance, and even the thought that people in decision-making positions just don’t want to give them a shot or see them shine for reasons unknown or intangible circumstances.
For those trying to grow at work, the same as above can be true, specifically the part about people not supporting them in their quest to win.
Being fired was never a consideration that I remotely entertained, but concerns about losing a job can be valid. Some of it has to do with changes or questions about the stability of an organization or its leaders. A lot of it is related to shaky relationships with an immediate supervisor. Still, a great deal of the fear about being hired or fired has to do with the overall anxiety that exists in the marketplace, where people just aren’t reassured about the value they bring to their organizations and whether this value is worthy of the loyalty that most companies are perceived not to have.
Because I’ve never had issues finding fulfilling work, nor have I had concerns about being let go, it may seem easy for me to downplay how this can eat at others. However, I was fired once. As I look back on it, not only was it the single most shocking moment of my entire career, it probably was one of the most liberating.
What I’m trying to say is this: don’t worry about people not supporting you or trying to sabotage your career. Whether it’s valid or made up in your head, the reality of it is that nobody can control your ability to grow and excel like you can. Don’t get me wrong; it is important to be well-received by colleagues and those you do business with, and it is absolutely paramount to have a solid reputation and track record. A the same time, the energy one spends worried about what others think is nothing short of wasted capacity.
Here’s the thing: nine times out of 10, the person you think has it out for you doesn’t. As a matter of fact, that person is probably more concerned about growing and maintaining his or her own career, and anything you sense actually has more to do with that person than it does you.
Even if your supervisor really does go out of his way to make your life miserable or take your ideas as her own, what are you going to do about it? And how do you plan to progress professionally in spite of it?
How about this: what if we all put the same amount of energy into focusing on the work in front of us and giving it our absolute all. What if we took whatever assignment, role, level, or circumstance and embraced it as our professional reality. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t pursue other options when you feel uncertain or unhappy where you are. What I’m suggesting is wherever you are, for as long as you are there, nail it. Knock it out of the ball park. Make it your own and be excellent in it. Not only will you be fulfilled, you also will be prepared and fully available for whatever comes next.
When I lost my job, a gateway of opportunities opened that I do not believe I would have had the courage to pursue otherwise, nor would I have been open to certain opportunities because I would have been on a very different path. I’m grateful it happened because of all I learned as a result. So, my perceived professional loss turned out to be a major life win.
The person who doesn’t hire you is no more in the driver’s seat than the person who fires you. So calm down and stop letting people press your buttons. When you show up whole, wholehearted, prepared, informed, and operating at your absolute best, you can never, ever lose – ever.
I’m always relating things back to music or memorable lines from movies. There is a song that opens: "if you are who you say you are, a superstar, then have no fear..."
I sing this to myself a lot. It reminds me that there is uniqueness in all of us. There is no need for me to worry about real or perceived naysayers. And although who I am may not work for some (a very small few, might I add), it works for me, and I do a better job of managing that than anyone else ever could.
Rashada Whitehead is a professor, writer, and the president and chief transformation officer of KGBERRY, an organization that helps conscious companies navigate big changes. Connect with her here on Twitter.