By Ryan Rushing

Fear and intimidation can be the biggest obstacles to success. While they are genuine responses to the thought of doing something bigger and better, neither are rational; they come out of inexperience and facing the unknown. Rather than waiting on opportunities to arise, take the first several steps, turn a corner and find what you’ve been looking for.

In 2008 I started as an in-house “web-developer,” who did everything with Adobe and HTML/CSS. The management didn’t utilize my skills to the full potential, and a week before my wedding, my two year stint as the Pretty-maker ended. Of course, leaving this job meant I had to find another one and probably move to a larger city – and the closest one with any type of successful design market was the Dallas/Fort Worth area – which terrified me. Crazy drivers, big interstates, home of Fossil, the Richards Group, and Andy Rutledge. So what did I do? I avoided Dallas like it was the cause of the zombie apocalypse, but six months of unemployment, 30+ resumes/cover letters, a layoff between job 1 and job 3, mixed with suggestions from some great friends, led me to where I’m at today. Essentially, two emotions were keeping me from taking the DFW plunge: Fear and Intimidation.

Fear of failure was the primary emotion hindering me. If I failed, I would lose whatever job I had, go bankrupt and run out of food, water, and the Internet. This fear seemed to stem from a caveman instinct to protect myself by telling me to stay in that comfort zone. Looking for a new job was very difficult for me, as it is for most of us, especially when it’s a better one, but getting past fear is the first step to getting an awesome job.

Another thing that can stop us dead in our tracks is intimidation. It’s the cousin of the F-word, and it thrives on scaring us out of the group. Since humans are wired to work within a group, intimidation can be a tough thing to overcome. You might be thinking, “But Ryan, the designers at Super-Awesome Agency in New York know what they are doing and if I work there, I’m not going to know what’s going on and I’ll fail and then they’ll blacklist me cause I suck.” (Okay this might happen, but only unless you do something incredibly stupid or maybe illegal.) Here’s a newsflash: Any job you take will be different and you’ll know less than other people there. It’s a unique environment, with different work practices. It’s okay. You will learn. That’s the point.

It’s absolutely necessary for our profession that we continue to strive for better jobs and more responsibilities as much as we can. By settling into your current state, your skills and abilities will start to slowly to fade away. They will depreciate, and not in the cool, hand-crafted technique of the letterpress kind of way, but more like the shoulder pads from 1984 kind of way. By putting yourself in a better position, you’ll learn a ridiculous amount very quickly and it’ll be from your mentors. You’ll learn the details of your craft that you never thought existed, and soon enough, you’ll be the mentor, hiring the nervous kid who is sticking his neck out for the betterment of his career.