Journal logo

Why Being Nervous Is Good

Going out of your comfort zone at work is healthy.

By Rick SchwartzPublished 6 years ago 2 min read

I stood behind the curtain, waiting to go on stage.

This was new territory for me. Not necessarily the going on stage part, I'd done my fair share of public speaking. Audiences don't frighten me, nor does presenting in front of crowds. But what I was actually there to present - the thing itself - was totally new for me.

I've accomplished some things in my career, enjoyed my fair share of successes (and failures). But this was a new thing, a new field, an attempt at something different and unknown. As I embarked on this venture, it didn't occur to me that it would bring back a long gone emotion hearing the crowd restless with anticipation, I had an unfamiliar feeling.

Nausea, rapid heartbeat, a pit in my stomach. It had been a while, but I finally placed it: fear.

And it felt good.

Why was I nervous? The list was long: trying something new, the fear of failure, venturing outside of my happy bubble, etc. But in the end, I realized, the things I was afraid of ultimately didn't matter. More importantly, I missed what it meant - that I was taking a chance.

I actually missed the feeling.

There's something that happens when you go outside your comfort zone. Your mind senses it intuitively, your body knows it. And for a whole multitude of reasons, it's a good idea.

When it comes to work:

  • What are the things you're afraid of?
  • Are you playing it safe?
  • Do you avoid speaking in public?
  • Do you secretly want to go out on your own?
  • Do you speak up at meetings?
  • Have you made a habit of staying in your lane?
  • Deep down, are you doing what you really want to do?

I haven't had that queasy feeling in a while; do I know what I'm doing? Will this work? Will I embarrass myself or fail miserably?

Fear can be a great motivator. It usually means you're excited; the possibilities are endless, and the achievement is even sweeter when you ultimately realize it.

In a way, I wish I had more fear in my personal life. Complacency and stagnation, along with a feeling of sameness, can be demoralizing and debilitating. It's one reason so many relationships fail; as humans, we crave change, motivation and forward momentum. Work is no different.

Of course, there are different types of fear when it comes to the workplace. There is a style of leadership that was popular for a while called fear-based management. I once worked for a person that everyone in the company - bar none - was terrified of; he used fear as a motivator. In the end, that kind of fear doesn't work for most employees. We all worked hard, mainly because we were afraid of both his wrath and getting fired. In the end, though, the constant terror and anxiety wore us down; as soon as a comparable opportunity presented itself elsewhere people fled the company. There's good work fear and there's bad work fear, but in the end, as FDR famously said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

And so, armed with both terror and confidence. I strode on to the stage. I can do this, I told myself, embracing my fear. Now if only I'd seen the microphone wire on the floor...


About the Creator

Rick Schwartz

Rick Schwartz's producer credits include The Departed, Black Swan and Lip Sync Battle. He is the Founder of Jerrick.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.