Career decisions: do you focus on risk or on opportunity?
Do you postpone pursuing a public interest career out of fear -- fear of failure, fear of parental disapproval, fear of living a less lofty lifestyle, you name it -- or do you pursue a public interest career because you see it as an opportunity for growth? This smart LinkedIn article by James Altucher contains a wealth of insights about how we make important decisions in our life. I am constantly battling my own avoidant streak. Yes, by embracing risks you may feel fearful. But experiencing fear is less unpleasant than experiencing regrets.
Do You Make Fear Decisions or Growth Decisions?
by James Altucher
I was afraid I was going to lose my biggest client. And my job. So I let him yell at me repeatedly.
I met a friend of mine. She said, “My grandma told me there are only two types of decisions: Decisions made out of fear and decisions made out of growth.”
For instance, do you stay in your job because you are afraid you won’t get another job? Or do you stay in your job because you are excited about the growth potential there?
Do you stay in a relationship because you are afraid you won’t meet someone else, or you are afraid it will be bad for your kids, or you are afraid of hurting someone else?
Or do you stay in a relationship because you are truly grateful the other person is in your life (and hopefully, vice versa).
I thought about it. I picked all of major decisions in my life.
– Moving to NYC for HBO
– Leaving HBO to start a company
– Getting married the first time. The second time.
– Getting divorced. Having kids.
– Moving 80 miles out of NYC after losing home and money.
– Trying to sell a company before it had fully bloomed.
– Not taking business trips because I was nervous about what would happen if I left home.
And on and on. Grandma was right!
Every decision I have made has either been fear or growth. Not just big decisions but even the smallest decisions.And the fear-based decisions never worked out for me. When I made a fear based decision it was always because I was giving power to someone else. I’d make a fear-based decision out of insecurity. Out of a feeling of scarcity. Out of giving too much power to others so they would control my life.
The growth-based decisions all resulted in miracles I could not have imagined.
With growth-based decisions you feel it in your body: an expansion of your chest, ideas in your mind, a feeling of competence increasing. A feeling of freedom expanding.
A growth-based decision becomes the story of your life later. A fear-based decision turns into regret.
In fear-based decisions, you feel it in your head – I better do this…OR ELSE. I listened to one of my first bosses yell at me so many times because I was afraid he would fire me if I argued.
I didn’t want to get fired because I had a company on the side and HBO (my job at the time) was the biggest client. I had no confidence in my company. So fear of losing a client prevented me from devoting all of my time to the real growth in my life.
One time I was scared I was going to go broke again.So I took a job. I tried to convince myself that it was a growth decision. Maybe I would expand at the job and create opportunities.
But the first day at the job I fell straight to the ground for no reason. Everyone laughed and said, “Are you ok?” and I got up because I was ashamed and embarrassed at all the people looking at me.
I started to limp because I hurt my leg so badly.
The second day at the job, the boss of the company told me, “Trust me on your salary. We’ll take care of you.”
And I was afraid to argue. He was the boss. The third day at the job, I got up and walked out. I didn’t clean out my office. I left my jacket there. I took the elevator down 40 stories. I walked out into the sun. And I never went back. They called repeatedly. Even a year later the main guy was still calling. Is still calling.
My life is better than ever. I never looked back. I left the building and walked to Grand Central. I took the train 80 miles. I watched the leaves turning from green to red along the way across the Hudson River.
I came to my house and walked the one block to the river and breathed in the air not knowing how, what, why. Not thinking about money for the first time in months.
And then I noticed. I wasn’t limping. My leg didn’t hurt. Not everything went good for me after that decision. Some pretty awful things happened.
My heart tore open more than once. My fears about money came back again and again.
But it was a growth decision. And bit by bit, the growth decisions added up. And bit by bit, I grew to love my life more than I ever had.
Thank you, my friend’s Grandma.