Mistake #1 – Being too scared


We’ve all made mistakes in our careers. I wish I had someone to tell me that I was making a mistake when I was, but I didn’t. I’ve made three significant ones till date, two in my early years – one that I regret till date and one that I’ve learnt from. I will share these with you over the next few posts and maybe they will remind you of mistakes you’ve made or maybe they will stop you from making the same ones that I did. If neither, you could just laugh at my foolishness 🙂

Post the first 1.5 years of my career, I was offered a fantastic opportunity. I was given a chance to lead all HR activities save compensation for a location that was 150 people strong. So far, I had exposure only into the world of an HR Business Partner and now would have to take on recruitment and also certain administrative functions. What did I do? I gawked and refused! Sounds crazy, eh? Here’s my justification – the recruitment leader of the organization at that time was a lady I feared immensely. When I realized that I would have a dotted line reporting into her, I wet my pants! There was no way I was going to lose my peace of mind dealing with her. What I failed to do at this point is look at the pros of the opportunity.

My current manager had made great efforts to get me that opportunity. When I refused, he was not only surprised but also disappointed that I had not thought this through. I had failed to consider two very important factors –

  1. I was getting valuable exposure into a segment (recruitment) that I will probably not get again. I realize this now. As the years roll by, it gets harder and harder for me to imagine being a recruiter. Having covered that experience in my early years would have made me a better professional today.
  2. My reporting was still to my existing manager (the leader for the Business Partner function). He was a great manager and would have gone out of his way to protect me from the lady when required (as he had done in the past).

I let one foolish fear rob me of an opportunity of a lifetime. Did I ever get any experience in recruitment? Not yet. I don’t know now when that will happen. When someone asks me of my biggest career regrets, I always think of this one.

What opportunities have you lost because you were just too scared? I’d like to know.


2 thoughts on “Mistake #1 – Being too scared

  1. That’s a classic example of a Fight-or-Flight response. A survival instinct. However, we don’t really need that in our professions. We instinctively think of the “bad” and get away from the opportunity.

    What’s the worst that can happen?
    What’s the best that can happen?

    In your case, you would have had to search another job if you couldn’t keep up with the lady in question. Not so bad.

    What would have been the best case? You would have learnt a great deal of recruitment early on in your career, you could have led an org of 150 with just 1.5 years of work exp!

    Indeed a wrong choice there. But what I loved is your ability to recognise that mistake and learn from it. Looking at the positive side of this mistake, you should read what Seth Godin just wrote here – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2017/04/like-riding-a-bike.html

    The tribe that learns from it’s mistakes is the tribe that ultimately wins! 😉

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