... I am both pleased and appalled. My problem is that I don't think I'm ready for the job and doubt if I have the right skills or experience. If I say no, I look a wimp, it will stunt my career and I'll probably spend the rest of my career kicking myself. But if I say yes I'm frightened I will screw up royally. What to do?
Read what Lucy Kellaway, "agony-aunt" of the Financial Times (London), answered:
This is the least controversial problem that these pages have ever seen. All FT readers agree on what you ought to do: leap at the job.
In the interests of variety, I am going to argue the reverse. You should not feel the fear and do it anyway. You should feel the fear and run a mile.
Most of us, if we are being even slightly honest, would be a bit scared in your shoes. To feel no dread when asked to do something harder than you have ever done before suggests that you are either stupid, lacking in imagination or, worse, pathologically overconfident.
Yet I suspect your level of fear goes beyond this, otherwise you would not be asking. To be so open about fear is not the done thing. All management is in part a confidence trick - on other people and on yourself. You have spoken out either because you are more than usually in touch with your feelings, which is not an advantage in corporate life, or because you are more than usually fearful.
As one who also suffers from a lot from fear, I have learnt to listen to it - sometimes. Almost everything new I am asked to do frightens me but I try to distinguish between small fear, which I swallow and fight, and big fear, which I give in to.
So when I was asked recently to do a stand-up comedy act for charity, I said no. I would have liked to try to see if it was something I could do, but I said no out of pure terror. I do not regret it. I am not kicking myself for being a wimp. I am delighted to have spared myself the angst.
The vital piece of information missing from your problem is whether you are happy in your job. If you are, why change it? Why saddle yourself with that sick feeling of being out of your depth? There is no rule that says we must always go for bigger and more responsible jobs, when we are perfectly happy where we are.
What you should do depends on your feeling on reading this. Is relief now wafting over you, knowing that someone sane (ish) is telling you it is OK to say no? If so, then you know what to do. If not, go with the FT readers' advice and take the job. I am sure you will do it fine - though that is not really the point.
Aus: The Financial Times, London. www.ft.com