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Seek Respect, Not Attention

Monday I go to Memphis for a week-long conference for all of global communications at my company's home office. About two weeks ago the bad dreams started.

In the dream, I'd be walking around carrying all my "stuff," not finding a place. "You're not on any list," they would say to me. "I don't have a place for you." "Who are you again?"

I like my job and I'm very good at what I do. I know my boss - and his boss - like me. I've even been asked to present at the conference. I have no reason to feel anxious about this trip. AND YET. Insecurities...I got 'em.

I used to think my biggest fear was dropping my keys down that gap between the elevator car and the building floor. Then I heard someone talk about the Fear of Being Found Out and I realized that there is a whole other level of fear that I hadn't even tapped into yet. Like being found out -- the fear that one day, everyone's going to realize I have NO IDEA what I'm doing. You're all going to see through me and know that I'm a total faker. I will be found out. I will be humiliated. I will be finished.

Irrational? Of course. But aren't most fears? I mean, outside of the fight-or-flight ones that actually save our lives. Most of our fears are like these first-world mind-fucks that we create ourselves as a response to our emotional handicaps.

But fear can also be a jumping-off point for learning and growing. It can teach us something about ourselves: for instance, that my ego may be bigger than the suitcase I'm packing for a week's stay. "Seek respect, not attention," Banksy tweeted just this morning, as though addressing it directly to me. What are my expectations for this conference -- to be singled out as the department's greatest communicator of all time? Because that's probably not going to happen, Kalisa. If I go seeking to be a worker among workers, I will undoutedly find that they do, in fact, have a spot reserved just for me.

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