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Pushing Through Most People’s #1 Fear

How to respond when that voice inside whispers we’re not good enough

Recently, a friend interviewed a successful marketing company CEO named Tomo about how he got his start as a writer and marketer. During the conversation, Tomo shared a valuable lesson he learned early in his career that still inspires him today.

As a young adult writing for smaller, local businesses, Tomo demonstrated a talent for creating relatable, targeted marketing campaigns and ad copy. His success led to an offer from a larger firm. Tomo jumped at the opportunity, though he wondered if, maybe, he would be in over his head.

“I had been at the new job a few days, enough time to meet everyone, get acclimated, help out with a project or two. I came in one morning to find my first solo assignment waiting for me. They wanted me to write an eBook. I had never written an eBook. In fact, I had no idea how to write any kind of book. So, I sat there, reading the assignment over and over again, feeling the fear build up inside me.

“I wasn’t afraid of failing. I had failed before and learned from those failures. My fear was someone finding out I didn’t know what I was doing. In that moment, it felt like everything I had accomplished before didn’t matter, because I was too focused on what I’d never done.

“I sat there, staring at the blank page on my computer screen, debating my next move. I could just leave. If I left, they would never find out. Tempting, but I knew giving into my fear would mean losing that opportunity, and probably others.

“In that moment, it felt like everything I had accomplished before didn’t matter, because I was too focused on what I’d never done.”

“So, I gathered my courage and walked to my colleague’s desk. Over his 30-year career, Dave had seen it all. I was a little in awe, wondering how to tell him what I was thinking, when I heard myself blurt out: ‘They asked me to write a book, and I have no idea how!’

“Dave smiled, offered some direction to get me started, and said, ‘Just begin. You’ll figure it out.’ Then Dave shared a quote that, he said, resonated with him; and it has certainly helped me through some rough spots over the years:

‘It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give up… by that time I was too successful.’

“Because of my fear of being found out, it took me a long time to realize, and longer to accept, that everyone already knew I didn’t know everything, and that was okay. They saw me face challenges, and they respected me for overcoming them. Knew my shortcomings, and appreciated the quality of my work. They cared about who I was and what I did. I earned their trust by living my values and growing through each new challenge. I didn’t need to fear being found out, because they already knew me. That awareness led to so much freedom.

“Today, more than twenty years later, my business is healthy and growing, and I sometimes wonder if there will come a time when it’s too big for me. Then, I remind myself that as long as I keep growing, keep investing in myself and in others, our team will be who we need to be to realize our greater vision.”

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A version of this article was originally published in the February 2021 issue of Sandpoint Living Local / Coeur d’Alene Living Local.