Q: I have some risks I'd like to take at work, but I don't want to end up embarrassing myself in front of my boss. Is there a way I can...

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Q:
I have some risks I’d like to take at work, but I don’t want to end up embarrassing myself in front of my boss.

Is there a way I can build up my confidence before suggesting new ideas?

A:
People often believe that the way good things occur is they feel better or they act better.

Life actually works in the opposite order. People tend to feel better only after they repeatedly act better.

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I’ve had clients argue with me for years that if I could just guarantee they would feel less anxious, inadequate or more confident, they would take risks.

Life just doesn’t work this way and it’s kind of like negotiating with gravity; gravity doesn’t change the way it works because it makes you uncomfortable, and the older you get, the more uncomfortable it makes you.

Your letter brought up another common challenge.

Think about how often you avoid risks at work because you can’t stand being embarrassed.

How many of those actions might have resulted in cool opportunities for you?

Obviously, you can look for wading-pool experiences to practice what you want to do.

However, there’s always a big difference between a wading pool and an ocean.

If you feel strongly about what you want to do, let that exert a greater influence on you than your fear.

If we spend too much time waiting until we feel “confident” and avoiding awkward feelings at work, other people end up getting all the goodies.

If you want more power at work, you have to take risks before you feel confident and also risk experiencing uncomfortable emotions.

Now, I’m not saying you have to go out of your way to attract misery.

Misery has an uncanny way of finding you, so there’s no need to hunt it down.

However, if discomfort stands between you and something you want, quit waiting for the discomfort to go away.

You’ll end up with a gravestone that says: “Still waiting.”

The last word(s)

Q:
I have a co-worker who becomes quiet when I enter the room, looks away when I talk and doesn’t invite me to lunch. How do I know if she’s mad?

A:
Ask.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube