“Fear and excitement are almost the same emotion; the moment fear turns into excitement you will be able to achieve great things” – Wendy Barbara Moree.
What does it mean to step outside of your comfort zone? Stepping outside your comfort zone means doing things that you don’t feel comfortable with or doing things that are unfamiliar to you. Quoting Cylon George, “the ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way we grow”. However, because taking steps outside of one’s comfort zone always comes with stress, many people are afraid of taking that risk even though they would love to grow, improve or move ahead.
To help us further understand this topic and explore the different ways in which we can take steps outside of our comfort zone towards meaningful growth, our moderator, Jennifer Everson (Senior Director, Professional Services at Salesforce Northern Europe) had an interesting discussion with:
- Hilary Richters – Director at Deloitte | Lead Digital Ethics | Inclusion and Diversity Driver
- Wendy Barbara Moree – Senior Manager – EMEA ISV GTM at Salesforce | President Women’s Network, NL
- Rhonda Ocha – Director Market Delivery at MasterCard Europe
Being outside your comfort zone in the workplace could be as simple as being asked to make a presentation to a bigger discomfort like moving to a completely different department, career, position, location, market or company. However, according to Jennifer, being conscious of new challenges and new environments helps us control the stress that comes with the change because we are not only aware of the stress, but also conscious of the growth that comes with it. That serves as a motivation.
Some of the key points from the discussion are:
Seeing failure as success: Sometimes, the outcome of a new challenge may be unsuccessful but you will always learn something new, says Rhonda. In her words, “it is not failure, it is a learning opportunity”. For Wendy, even though in the corporate world the word ‘failure’ is commonly used, she advises that as individuals, we should understand that we are humans and we make mistakes. There’s no failure in stepping out of your comfort zone. Therefore, the word failure should be expunged from our vocabulary. Rather, see failure as a setback for a comeback. In addition, practice makes perfect. If you keep putting into practice what you learn from your past, you will become better, says Wendy.
Have a support system: It could be close friends, colleagues, family or a spiritual motivation, says Rhoda – whatever you know will take away the pressure of the discomfort and give you that boost of confidence. Have the nerve to ask for help, says Hilary. Like the saying goes, ‘no man is an island’, so you can never do it alone.
Fake it till you make it: This may sound bizarre, but not for Hilary. She says if you are asked to do something new, imagine yourself as a movie star or any expert in that field and fake it until you have enough self-control to understand that you can really do it.
Admit your fear, name your fear: One good way to reduce nerves in an uncomfortable zone is to admit it, says Wendy. You will be surprised to find that your audience actually appreciates your honesty.
Positive narrative: Say positive words to yourself. Look in the mirror and speak positive words to yourself. According to Rhonda, declaring “I’ve got this” or “I’m sure it’s going to be okay” are powerful words that gets her through any challenge.
Take constructive feedback: Feedback can be a hard pill to swallow but they are points for improvement, says Rhonda. Hilary, on the other hand says, “you need to be mindful of whose feedback you are taking”. Some people are just spoilsports so their opinion may not be for your growth.
Believe in yourself and make your own story: Being in an uncomfortable zone can cause insecurity, but as much as we might be tempted to be as good as the next person, it is better to be authentic, says Jennifer. Being yourself gives some form of comfort.
Write down your dreams: Writing down your dreams, fears, and the things you are not good at is a good start to recognising opportunities that can make you better, says Wendy.
Here are three benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone:
- You learn new things
- It helps to discover a side of you that you never thought existed
- Stepping outside of your comfort zone opens new doors you never saw at the beginning. Rhonda gave a very good life experience example to support this point. She had applied to MasterCard several times with no luck. She later got a job with a small internet company. It was a new environment though her assignment was a familiar one. She stayed on job even though she was bored, re-applied at MasterCard and got the job only because of her previous experience. So sometimes, that discomfort may be just what is needed to get what you desire.
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