For the last two months, I have been attempting to discuss with my boss that I wanted to apply and replace my supervisor’s position. I felt as though I had a clear understanding of what the job is, what kind of commitment it requires and I could return 5 years company related experience back into the position. However, I needed to overcome my intimidation before I could talk to her.
A widely held belief is that fear prevents us from reaching our goals. But, what about those situations when we have captured our fear but can’t seem to use that power yet? I consider intimidation is a feeling of not being afraid to move forward, but still feeling trapped behind an invisible wall, or light screen, that needs to brick broken through. Even when I don’t feel paralyzed, intimidation still weakens my attack power making it harder for me to accomplish my goals.
The big difference for me between fear and intimidation is that I can understand fear. Fear has some sort of logic behind it. I don’t want to jump off a diving board into the water because I could get hurt. I don’t want to talk to my boss because I might get fired. Both examples are easy to understand.
However, with intimidation the fear is captured, I am ready to harness its power, and yet, I still can’t initiate the action I need to in order to proceed. It comes down to a single moment when either I do it or I don’t. Once the moment passes, time continues either way.
First, let’s look at my friends and I jumping off a diving board into the water with my friends. I watched my friends jump in and I saw that it was safe. I wanted to jump too. It looked and sounded like fun. But, on the count of three, I just stood there.
I reminded myself “Self, after you do it, you will want an encore because it will be so much fun. Think of the exhilaration of falling through the air. You love jumping into water from the ledge. It’s the same thing, just a little bit higher.” I was excited to try again. Again, on the count of three, I did not move. I could not find any logical reasons explaining why I was just standing at the end of the board, paralyzed.
Now, sometimes intimidation can be weakened and even prevented. Stage fright usually refers to the intimidation of a performer when in the presence of an audience, and they suddenly cannot perform. By rehearsing their performance, performers prepare a calm mind by learning what is going to happen during their performance. In most cases, the comfortability with the material lowers the impact of the addition of the audience. I grew up performing in front of people. I had piano recitals, played tenor sax in three bands, ran cross-country and acted every weekend during speech, drama and debate competitions. However, sometimes just knowing these strategies doesn’t always prevent intimidation.
I knew I needed to prepare for speaking to my boss about such a large promotion. First, I had to catch all of my fears before asking her. I evolved them into concepts and ideas that I did not have to worry about. The worst possible negative outcome was that I might be told “No,” and I was prepared to accept that answer. I speak with her on a daily basis, so there was no reason to be nervous about speaking with her. I was a little unnerved about the actual job, but I was also confident that I could do it.
I knew asking her would be intimidating so I strategized a plan to start our conversation with my supervisors. It was going to be like weakening a pokémon before catching it. I set up a perfect situation where we would start discussing one thing and then ease myself into asking her about the position. I even visualized it. All I had to do was ask, “How is the replacement search going?”
Even though I was prepared to dive in, I was not able to ask my question. I still just stood there looking at her, leaning forward with my mouth ajar. My brain was giving the command to talk and eventually yelling “Do this now!!! Now is the perfect opportunity!!! JUST DO IT!!!” Yet nothing happened, and she returned to work.
Sometimes no amount of preparation or words of encouragement can counter intimidation when the moment arrives. I have found that limited time acts as my best haze attack to eliminate the effects of intimidation. When there are more opportunities to work through intimidation, the least likely I am to superpower through it. Only when my chance to overcome the intimidation is now or never, my fight or flight instincts trigger my clear body and the extra adrenaline keeps my attack power stays strong and confident.
One day last week, I learned my boss was interviewing someone that day. I knew I needed to talk to her that morning, or I might have lost my opportunity to actually apply for the job. So, I arranged for another quick conversation to ease myself into asking her. However, the interviewee’s arrival interrupted our conversation. I felt I had missed my final opportunity to have this conversation, but the day was far from over.
After the interview, my boss came into the office, where I was eating lunch, to discuss something with one of my superiors. Once they began chatting, my brain determined now was the time to ask. I only needed to find any moment to jump into the conversation. After missing a few brief pauses, I interrupted their conversation by saying my boss’s name. With that short interjection, I felt the barrier fade and the intimidation fall. I probably was not as articulate as I wanted to be earlier, but I knew I had smashed my shell and I could feel the confidence grow.
As a result, my conversation with my boss went well. She acknowledged that she knew I was interested in the position from the last time the position was available. However, she has been strategizing ways to give me more experience and to train me to a level where she feels comfortable with me in that position. I think she believes my current level as too low to battle some of the higher level situations the position requires.
Sometimes intimidation is expected and I don’t experience any sort of thing. I thought moving to New York City without a job or place to live would be an intimidating experience, yet I was unaffected. Other times intimidation can be suppressed, like when my mother and I started down the walkway to marry my husband and me. Although I find intimidation to be a silly reaction, I know the moment I encounter it I will need to decide to show a little moxie and break through or watch my desire wimp out. Once that moment passes, time will continue either way.
Let’s chat: What is a story of when you were intimidated by something? How did you react to the intimidation?
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