The Monster Under the Bed
“There’s nothing to be afraid of.” When was the last time you heard that? Possibly when you were knocking at your parent’s bedroom door begging to spend the night in their room due to the monster under your bed.
This got me thinking about the fears we have as we get older. I’m not just talking about your run of the mill fears like heights or spiders. I’m talking about the fear of failure. In the business world, specifically my business world of Learning and Development (L&D), I came in like a lamb and found my lion. No, you didn’t read that incorrectly. The phrase is, “came in like a lion and out like a lamb”, but that’s only how the universe defines the month of March.
I have been employed with my company for almost 22 years. This is a lifetime nowadays. I consider myself lucky with the way the job market fluctuates. Anyway, after breaking into the business at an entry-level position and working my way around to Leadership for more than six years, I decided to take a leap into L&D as a Trainer. Fearful moment No. 1: As the day got closer to start my new role, I began to experience “buyer’s remorse.” I began to doubt my abilities and nearly had a panic attack. The confidence wasn’t there and I wanted to start banging on my parent’s door once again to hide from that monster of fear. By the way, I was 38 years old at the time.
The fear stayed with me through my first certification to the point that I came down with shingles because I was so nervous. I know, you must be thinking, “How ridiculous!” And it was, but in that moment it was real fear. When I attended that certification, the Master Trainer told me I was the most prepared person in the class, almost to the point that I was over-prepared. This took a little of the edge off. Slowly, I started to find my way in the training world. You see, no one teaches you how to be a trainer. You have to figure that out on your own. Luckily, I had some mentors along the way who assured me I was meant to be a trainer.
My “Dorothy Moment”
There were definitely some bumps in the road throughout the last seven years, but then, out of nowhere, my fear was gone. I’m not sure when the actual turning point was, maybe after recovering from shingles. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a fear of speaking in front of people or preparing for my classes but a fear of doing anything outside of my comfort zone. So what did my comfort zone look like? Get the training material, highlight what I needed to know, and relay it to a group of people without making it boring. That was it! Pretty dull, right? I needed someone to believe in me, and push me to realize my potential and what I was capable of. Believe it or not, that somebody was my fourth boss in L&D. I had to go through four leaders before someone took the time to recognize my fears, tap into my capabilities, and care enough to push me out of my comfort zone. I’m hoping some of you reading this are nodding your heads in agreement because you’ve had similar experiences.
This push from my leader was my “Dorothy moment,” meaning, I always had it in me to find my way but never bothered to tap my ruby slippers together to realize it. Once he enabled me to use those magic powers, I was able to succeed on my own and create impactful moments. He awoke a new monster, but this time it was the “punch fear in the face and take no prisoners” monster. Not only have I been able to come up with innovative ideas, run with them, and make them a reality, I also left the Sales channel—the only channel I supported in my early years with the company and as a trainer—to become a customer service trainer . Did I mention that I moved my entire family from New York to Georgia to do this? Talk about overcoming a fear! He also suggested that I go back to school, one of my biggest fears of all. Today, a Summa Cum Laude graduate is writing this article.
Questions to Ponder
So now I pose these questions to you.
- What is holding you back?
- What are you truly afraid of?
- What do you have to lose?
- When was the last time you reached beyond your comfort zone?
The amateur advice I can offer is: Just do it. No, I don’t work for Nike. You have to come to the realization that no one is going to do it for you. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a few supporters along the way, but they won’t put the work in for you. That’s all up to you. If you put the work in and feel good about it, tell anyone who is willing to listen. I have reached out to managers I have never met and who don’t know me, I have e-mailed my VP of Learning and Development, directors, and so on, and guess what? They know me now. I may have to remind people now and again of who I am, but I’m OK with that. Eventually, they will remember me on their own.
Leave that monster under the bed where it belongs. There is nothing to be afraid of except staying in your comfort zone.
Alaine Carrello is a senior trainer in Learning and Development at Verizon. She has been with Verizon Wireless for 22 years and has held many positions. Carrello has been in the Learning and Development organization since 2010 and recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bellevue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Adult Education.