I get constantly frustrated when talented colleagues are asked to step up into leadership positions and the first and immediate response is a vehement “No! I can’t do it!”… Okay, I admit I have declined such opportunities in similar fashion as well! What makes one afraid to take on an opportunity when they are clearly fit for it? I know some who would grab the chance without giving it a second thought even when they are not half as talented for it. What makes us hold back?

I watched a new baby step into this world. Armed just with instinct and a little guidance from the mother, she learnt to suckle. She needed the milk to survive! As she grew through her milestones, she learnt to sit, to crawl and eventually got her balance to walk. Before we knew it she was running all over the house faster than we could keep track of her! She was excited by this new discovery! Now we could ask her to pass the salt and take her utensils to the kitchen which she did with excitement. What if she’d said she didn’t want to try walking – that she was just fine with crawling around the house?

Stagnation is the first stage of death. Self-doubt or complacency can get you stuck in status quo.  These two dispensations can get you to your career’s death fast!

Believe in Yourself

If you subscribe to those that constantly doubt their abilities – you are not alone! You may have that uncanny need to be affirmed and reaffirmed of your capability before you get the courage to step out. The time is here when you have to learn to believe in the gifts, talents and skills God has blessed you with. You should sing the age old hymn “Count your blessings name them one by one”… indeed it will surprise you how fit you are for the task you are afraid to take on.

The first step to believing in yourself is knowing who you are and what you are capable of doing. Take stock of your talents and skills. You will be surprised at how much you are equipped for the challenge. The next thing is to understand the demands of the proposed position. What will it take to succeed? Match up the job requirements with your abilities. If there are gaps, that’s NOT your cue to walk away! Check how you can bridge the gaps – can you learn the missing skill? Can you get someone to support you in that area? Whatever you do, don’t convince yourself out of taking on the challenge. Be creative in finding a way to take it on.

Don’t Settle for Less

The moment you feel you have “arrived” in your career, that’s the time to check whether you are getting challenged enough to keep growing. It is tempting to get comfortable where you understand everything and your skills are just right to keep you thriving. Yet, in this fast-paced era where yesterday’s excellence is today’s mediocrity, the illusion that you have arrived at your career destination will easily and quickly turn you to an obsolete resource.

You must start by changing your attitude towards change. Taking on new challenges in areas you feel inadequate gives you a chance to hone new skills. Get excited about growing your capacity and take on the new challenge. It may be harder at the beginning, but with the right attitude, you will solicit the right support to equip you for the position. Focusing on the ability to thrive in this new challenge will open doors to solutions you need to succeed. You will be surprised that the best leaders didn’t know everything they know today – they put their mind to learn and now they look like they have known this all along!

Next time you want to turn down a new challenge, check first why you are settling for death through stagnation. Is it because you doubt your capabilities? Are you getting complacent? Shake that negative focus off and believe in yourself. Don’t settle for anything less than the best challenge that can grow you to the next level. Yes, you can do it!

About The Author

Gakii Nkonge

Gakii Dominica is a vibrant risk and quality management practitioner in a professional services firm. She is committed to continuous performance improvement and driving organizational efficiency. She is passionate about her life purpose – developing young leaders and economically empowering women in Africa. She believes Africa needs better leaders to steer the continent into a developed economy. She envisions an Africa with focused leaders and women strengthened to be the backbone of its development and growth.