The best motivator for feeling ready to jump into something new and scary in your career can be the fear itself, according to Jehmu Greene, Fox News political commentator and social justice organizer. Greene sat down with Levo in Office Hours to talk politics, women in leadership, and using fear and failure as motivators to do something bold. Read her advice and listen to her share about her political experience below.
The power of female role models
Greene said that her first inspiration to become a leader in the political world came from local female politicians she saw growing up in Austin, TX. It was a foundation for understanding female leadership that she will never forget and tries to build upon in her own career, she said. The first time she ever showed up to vote at a polling place there was a mixup with her registration and she was denied the chance. It became her life mission to bring the vote to anyone who might be similarly denied.
Throughout her career, Greene has had many power players as mentors and peers. The best way to develop these relationships is to ask, she said, because often these leaders want to pass advice to the next generation. You don’t have to agree with your mentors politically or ideologically, and such differences shouldn’t hold you back from pursuing a valuable collaboration, she said.
Fear and failure as motivators
In 1996, Greene left home and travelled to Washington D.C. to work for the second Clinton campaign with no contacts and no job, but she was fearless. “Taking that risk was the best thing I could have ever done,” she said. Women who can act boldly despite that fear go far in their careers, according to Greene.
Fear works differently with your career than people think, she said. Rather then deny or ignore frightened feelings, you should use that as a motivator to take risks anyway. Using the adreneliene of anxiety, Greene said she was able to push back, say her opinions, and take opportunities — something that lead her to work as a political commentator on Fox News. She said she had not had media training, but she jumped in anyway when given the chance.
Fear and failure can give you the most important shifts in your career, Greene said. To overcome these roadblocks, rely on the strength of your personal brand. Make sure you take time to feel these losses and embrace these experiences, she said.
Create your personal brand: Be Bold, Be You
Greene said she wished she had taken more time to separate her work from her life. You need outlets to relax in order to do your best work, something she learned later in her career. She gets massages, plays tennis, has dinners with co-workers where they don’t discuss work. Be deliberate about how you divide different parts of your life, said Greene.
Women should learn to let their uniqueness show, she said. Be loud and audacious. Greene said even when she’s fearful, she tries hard to stick to her personal brand. No one is perfect, she said, strive excellence but don’t kill yourself in the pursuit of perfection. Most importantly, Greene said to use your flaws because they are what set you apart and eventually motivate you to succeed in all parts of your life.