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Job Insecurity

iStock_000011609526XSmallAuthors Tish Squillaro and Timothy Thomas in their book HeadTrash!: Cleaning out the Junk That Stands between You and Success, believe that insecurity is the most crippling of all the Head Trashes (40).

… and I believe it.

Of all the Head Trashes, fear, arrogance, insecurity, anger, control, guilt and paranoia, insecurity is probably the one I’ve struggled personally with the most. In fact, a very good trusted friend and boss of mine, once told me he believes that I’m driven by my insecurities – and I’m not so such certain that’s such a bad thing in some cases. We all have a little insecurity we deal with, but too much insecurity can be devastating.

Insecure managers have noisy brains filled with negative self images and self talk that may date back to their childhood (Squillaro and Thomas 43). Insecure people scrutinize every email, get nervous at every phone call in anticipation at what news or problems it brings, and are constantly reading through lines. Insecure people create vast conspiracies that they believe are going on in other peoples brains, but all centered around them. Even when insecure people succeed, they can suffer from a condition psychologists call the impostor syndromethey remain convinced they’re frauds, regardless of the success they achieved (Squillaro and Thomas 43).

If you’re wondering if you suffer from this problem, or you suspect your manager does, one symptom can be procrastination. Insecure people often use procrastination to avoid hearing the bad news they expect to hear (Squillaro and Thomas 43).

Insecure leaders have a hard time sharing credit (Squillaro and Thomas 44); they have trouble hearing constructive criticism, expecting that with every word the other shoe will drop and they will hear something that will confirm their worst fears about themselves (Squillaro and Thomas 44).

The problem is: people don’t want to follow someone who is insecure (Squillaro and Thomas 50).

What the authors of Head Trash don’t address is that sometimes this trash has accumulated over time through things or events that may have reinforced these insecurities (or anger issues, or whatever else we deal with). I can say that I used to use anger a lot to get what I wanted – because I saw how it worked for others, and for me, in many situations. But, that’s not sustainable. There have been events that have rocked my world (as we all have had these) and the way I, and you, interpret those events may have fed our insecurities. What I realize now, is that the way we interpret events is within our control and if it’s within our control, we are responsible for how we react, now and moving forward. We are in fact, response-ABLE.

Reverse the insecurity:

  • Allow yourself to accept a compliment (Squillaro and Thomas 53). It actually feels good!
  • You likely cannot change the fact that you talk to yourself, or that you have a little voice in there that talks to you, so change what the voice says and change the voice – maybe replace the annoying voice telling you can’t do it with one from your parents, or your spouse or a close friend, telling you that you can (Squillaro and Thomas 53).
  • Stop comparing yourself (Squillaro and Thomas 54). My students do this a lot I’ve noticed. They asked me how they can compete for a job with “everyone else” who has more qualifications, or more experience, or more education, or whatever  – so here is what I tell them:

It is impossible to accurately compare any one individuals strength and weaknesses with that of countless others. Each person brings his or her own strengths and weaknesses to a job interview. Some have more experience, some have more maturity, some have more education. You must learn to leverage what YOU bring to the table, and bring your best self forward. You cannot control what others bring to the table, only what you bring – Jeff Price

A particular strategy that Squillaro and Thomas recommend that I like, and that can provide you some leverage – or your manager if he or she is dealing with insecurity, is to overcome your insecurities not for yourself, but for your team. Whether you work at a job, or are working for a client, or are raising your kids, get over your insecurities for them. You are not doing them any favors by focusing on your own poor self-worth. Clients, businesses, your kids, your spouse – they are bigger than your insecurities and you are bigger than your insecurities – you owe them and you, your own best self.

Squillaro, Tish, and Timothy I. Thomas. HeadTrash!: Cleaning out the Junk That Stands between You and Success. Austin, TX: Emerald Book, 2013. Print.

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