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” I am lucky to have reached here. I can’t do more than this” said the manager ” I am not as smart as some of the others. They have better education and can take risks. I can’t”. Although he was doing well in his job and was being actively considered for higher responsibility, what was holding him back was – his fears and lack of belief in himself.

James Waldroop & Timothy Butler, authors of ” Maximum Success“call this kind of behaviour ” career acrophobia”. They are Directors of MBA Career Development at the Harvard Business School. In this context, “career acrophobia” means a fear of heights or more accurately a fear of falling from a height. People in this state feel that they have reached a position beyond their capabilities. They are hesitant to seek higher responsibilities.

The reasons for such behaviour can be traced back to events in their past life where they were made to feel inadequate or not good enough. The messages they got invariably hammered the point that they should not be over smart or too ambitious or simply ” too big for their boots”.

These messages over time affect the way they see themselves. They think they are “lucky” to have got selected or promoted. They do not give enough credit to their own efforts or merits. In short, say Waldroop & Butler, “They never feel good enough”.

Career acrophobia does not happen overnight. It has developed over years. Likewise, overcoming this also takes time and effort. It starts with self-awareness, identifying situations when they get such feelings of inadequacy, seeing patterns in such feelings and learning to counter each of them by using more positive thoughts and alternate behaviours.

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