Thursday, August 21, 2014

Don't be afraid to stand out

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Time and time and again I've been confronted with colleagues that prefer to stand in the background and not be differentiated from the rest. Nowadays this invariably makes me think: why the hell not?

Sometimes I think it's a clear case of lack of confidence in themselves and their know-how, which is understandable. In those cases I like to remember a common quote by Richard Branson that says "If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you're not sure you can do it, say yes - then learn how to do it later.". I've lost a few great opportunities for fear of failure, but now I do my best to remember this as often as I can.
Other times, people stand in the background, and I think this is the most common scenario, for fear of being in the spotlight. Yes I know, it's an obvious justification, but let me continue: it's not that they don't know their trade, they do; the thing is they don't want to get noticed by "the brass" and risk too much responsibility, aka, leaving their confort zone.
I've been there before: that state of mind where you do your job, follow the tasks laid out by your management and when the option comes for more exposure you step back and opt out. Lately though, with all my efforts directed at learning more and more about gamification and evangelizing it in my company, I've been "thrown to the lions" more times than I can count. And you know what? That's ok! It can be scary when your audience is the CEO, or even your colleagues and friends that you'll want to impress the most and make them proud. But believe me that every experience is going to make you grow, even the ones that go wrong. Especially those.
And if you're afraid of making too much of a splash start small: after all, what's life but a series of stepping stones to greater goals? But do it.
Some people say I have a knack for public speaking, but believe me, that is most certainly NOT my opinion. But I want it to be. I want to be that guy that people invite to talk about whatever theme is required. The thing is, I feel that if you don't take a step outside your confort zone, you're almost certainly not going to grow into the professional or individual that you want to become. And that requires standing out, putting your name out there and risking some misshaps. But hey, as Fernando Pessoa would say "stones in the path? I keep all of them, one day I'll build myself a castle...".
And it's really weird to translate Pessoa.


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