Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to act in the presence of fear – Anon

It is an oft repeated mantra – “Don’t ever meet your heroes”, the theory being that they’ll invariably fail to live up to the expectations you’ve created in your own mind and that you’ll end up disappointed.

I’ve had the good fortune in life to meet a couple of my heroes over the years, mostly sports people admittedly but still people that I admired and looked up to for their achievements in their respective fields and none of them were a disappointment. Once I reconciled in my own head that behind it all, they’re normal human beings just like the rest of us, I found that the conversations flowed and I quickly forgot their “hero” status.

I recently had the opportunity to meet one of my earliest sporting heroes – Tony Cascarino – the ex Republic of Ireland footballer, who happened to be in one of the hotels in Dublin, sitting quietly, on his mobile phone, presumably researching for his next media engagement. So as I casually strolled over towards his seat in the hotel lobby, I was overcome by an unfamiliar feeling – the feeling of doubt. My brain was doing somersaults about what I’d say to him, how would I introduce myself and what would my opening line be?

As I considered my options, I was thinking would I say perhaps “you’re the reason I started following the Republic of Ireland soccer team in the late eighties?” Or would I opt for telling him how much I enjoyed reading his biography – Full Time – The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino, so much so that I’ve read it again on several occasions? Or maybe I’d ask him about his career – what was it like to move from Millwall to Aston Villa to Celtic to Chelsea to Marseille to Nancy etc? What was the life of a professional footballer like on the inside?

All of these thoughts flooded through me as I got closer to his seat, until I was no more than about four feet away. At the last minute I swivelled and veered away to his right, something only a top striker (as he was in his day) would undoubtedly have appreciated, quickly gathering pace as I made my way past his seat and out the safety of the street. At the crucial moment, my courage failed me and I began to question and doubt the wisdom of my plan, so much so that I’m still kicking myself (metaphorically speaking) a week later and regretting the missed opportunity. After all what’s the worst that could have happened? I could’ve had an awkward 30 seconds chat with a bemused ex International footballer, or who knows perhaps we would have clicked and got on like a house on fire? The thing is I’ll never know. I may get the opportunity of meeting him again at some point, I may not. But the disappointment I felt wasn’t because of the missed opportunity but the fact that I allowed my initial courage to be overcome with doubt.

So what you may well ask is the point here? Well, we’re all wracked by doubts or fears at some point in our lives and none of us are immune to a courage meltdown. This can be particularly obvious when it comes to making career choices.  In my daily conversations with candidates, many of whom often lack the courage to make those difficult career decisions, I would advise them to take encouragement from my own past experiences and to be brave in making those decisions, irrespective of the outcome. Sometimes it helps to just sound out your options with an impartial third party and to draw upon their experiences before you make that leap.

It takes courage to know when to walk away from a job or career that you dislike, to face up to difficult conversations with your colleagues or your boss. It requires an element of bravery to promote yourself within your company when that promotion you’ve waited for is up for grabs and it would be easier to just hide in the shadows. In all cases I’d encourage any candidate to embrace their fears and doubts but to push them to one side and to go for it anyway.

They say that you’ll never regret the things you do, only the things you don’t do in life. Maybe you’re sitting there reading this and you’re hesitating about applying for that great job you’ve seen? Or maybe you’re cautious about asking for that salary review your boss mentioned six months ago but somehow seems to have slipped down their list of priorities? Whatever soul searching you’re doing right now, or career obstacle you’re facing that’s seemingly insurmountable, why not make Campbell Rochford part of the solution? Why not make us your sounding board for your next career move? Go on, contact us today. You won’t regret it!

Campbell Rochford – Turning Good To Great

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