Don’t let fear hold you back
Nicole, safety professional for a Northwest mechanical contracting company, told Session 4 of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“In 2001 I was just returning from maternity leave and expecting to go back to my roving safety position out of our Vancouver, Washington office. My boss informed me that instead, I would be going to a year-long recovery boiler project at a nearby Longview paper mill. I was not happy about the change, particularly since a new hire would be filling my position, a position I had been in for 6 years. In addition, I had heard that the supervisors on the job I was being assigned to were difficult to work with. I was sure that getting their support for high safety standards would be a challenge. After failing to persuade my boss to change his mind, I reluctantly went to the job with a chip on my shoulder.
“A recovery boiler is a huge vessel that burns byproducts from paper and pulp, recovers chemicals and is used to generate supplemental energy for the site. Our contract included structural steel upgrades and piping modifications. To keep from interrupting paper production, the bulk of the work we were doing would be completed while the boiler was still in operation. It was a complex, dirty, dangerous job. Mill employees made a point of telling us that their boiler was the only recovery boiler west of the Mississippi that hadn’t already blown up!
“Despite my initial bad attitude, the job turned out to be one of the best jobs I had ever been assigned to. The project was profitable, timely, injury free, and morale was incredibly high. The supervisors that I was worried about were actually great to work with and we became a solid team. An independent audit conducted by the client during the project produced comments about how professional our company was, and how our employees felt cared for and
appreciated being part of a vital, successful team.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is to not be so resistant to change. The action I call you to take is to keep an open mind and accept new challenges when they come your way. The benefit you will gain is career advancement and personal growth well beyond your current comfort zone.”
This story reminds us of how we can miss out on so much growth if we let our fear of change and a bias about people and circumstances hold us back. Someday soon, probably sooner than you expect, you'll be asked to take on a new challenge, explore new territory, change your role, and though it may not be as dangerous or challenging as Nicole's new boiler assignment, you may find that your first response is resistance. That's okay so long as it's not your last response, so long as you remind yourself that this is an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to learn and accept the challenge of change.
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