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TalentSmart - Using Anxiety To Fuel Performance
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who believe they can make things happen, and those who believe things happen to them. The first group is convinced that the outcome of their lives and careers is more or less in their own hands, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. The second group takes more of a Forrest Gump approach—they sit around and wait for the bus to take them somewhere.
University of Florida psychologist Tim Judge and his colleagues have shown overwhelmingly that people who feel like they control the events in their lives more than the events control them and are confident in their abilities end up doing better on nearly every important measure of work performance. In Judge’s studies, these individuals— we’ll call them “the Empowered”—were found to:
Sell more than other employees doGive better customer serviceAdjust better to foreign assignmentsTake home an average of 50 to 150 percent more annual income than people who feel less control over the fate of their careersSelf-Managing In Good Times And Bad
Of course, when good times are rolling, nearly all of us believe we have the world by the tail. What makes the Empowered people in Tim Judge’s studies special— whether they work the shop floor or in the C-suite—is that they don’t grow consumed by self-pity when the going gets tough. Just like you, the Empowered feel anxiety when hard times strike, but they use this anxiety differently. Since the Empowered believe that they have control over the outcomes in their lives, their anxiety fuels passion instead of pity, drive in lieu of despair, and tenacity over trepidation. Whether the Empowered find themselves presiding over a division with tanking revenues, on the receiving end of a scathing performance review, or staring yet another job-hunting rejection in the face, they refuse to wave the white flag. They redouble their efforts.
The good news is that we can all get better at managing the anxiety we inevitably feel when facing difficult and uncertain situations. The key thing to understand is that you are in fact facing uncertainty—the outcome of your future has not been decided. It’s up to you to develop the beliefs and mental toughness that will make you one of the Empowered.