The opportunity was there, but I was scared to take it. I was a new department director for a large county nursing home.
Our dietary and nutrition team was working hard to transform itself from the laughingstock department to a respectable operation, and we were making great progress.
There was a lot of work yet to do, as we had barely scratched the surface of our game plan. Then I heard word from our county officials.
The county jail across the street was growing unhappy with the contract management that serviced their kitchen, and they wanted to opt out of their contract.
I wrestled for months with myself, knowing the opportunity to enhance operations, consolidate our purchasing power, pursue the mission of the correctional facility, and save the county and taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars was there for the taking.
But my fears crept in:
- “I’ve got too much on my plate.”
- “I’m scared to work with criminals.”
- “I’ll neglect my core duties.”
- “I might fail miserably.”
- “I’m crazy for even thinking about this.”
Over the next few months, I hesitated to mention it. But as I slowly started to talk to others – my wife, my team, and those at the jail – my fears started to disappear and the excitement took its place and started to grow.
When I formally mentioned this plan to the administration on both ends, they were excited at the opportunity to consolidate the operations. As the transition plan evolved over the next few weeks, my fears eroded. And as the next few years progressed we saw the following occur:
- We saved the county taxpayers a large sum of money each year.
- We became consistently compliant in our local and federal regulatory practices.
- A more cohesive team culture set in.
But what was even more amazing were the side benefits of this journey:
- My fears and views about correctional facilities changed dramatically.
- I learned the impact that correctional institutions can make on society and rebuilding people. See this Lead Change Group article.
- Whenever an opportunity presents itself, fears can derail the chance to make a major impact.
I realize that none of this would have been possible had I let my fears trump this chance to pursue a unique adventure. And how many other times have I, or you, missed a great way to positively influence the lives of countless others because we let our fear of the unknown keep us comfortable?
Unknown, and even fearful territory, can only help us grow if we proceed forward and let the excitement of the possibility override our fears and insecurities. Challenge yourself to take that road less traveled.
Conquer those new paths, grow in confidence, and inspire others to do likewise. You’ll be amazed at how your world will change.