It’s been a while since I last posted an article here on LinkedIn as I have been busy trying to finish another challenging year. That’s no excuse of course for not continuing my series so here’s the second of the 101 things I learned during my career: As always I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below or reach out to me directly.
I’ve seen a lot of people posting about the comfort zone lately advocating to get out of it as beyond there is the promise of success, prosperity, fulfillment and never-ending learning. This concept has been trending for the past two decades now and I have always been careful not to overly glorify it as being out of your comfort zone comes with a hefty price tag.
I have been out of my comfort zone for almost all of the 25 years of my professional career (and also for a big part of my personal life – but’s that’s a different story) be it as a freshly graduated surgeon on his first night duty in the ER, a young army captain on his first assignment, a product manager launching his first big brand, and throughout all the commercial roles I held over the years: every new job, every promotion, every new assignment and every new project forced me to do things I’ve never done before and wasn’t prepared to do. And it was no difference with the current job that I started recently: after two decades in the industry I found myself sitting in my new office not knowing what to do. And again, I had to understand an unfamiliar business model, work with a new team, adjust my leadership style, learn new skills. Of course, I am a more complete leader today than I was 18 months ago, and I’m grateful for the new experience. But after nearly 25 years living on the edge I also started to appreciate that cozy place called “comfort zone”.
So next time someone asks “who likes to be out of his/her comfort zone?” take a break and ask yourself the following two questions before you hastily raise your hand:
Is it really because you want to challenge yourself? Or is it because it sounds hip and satisfies your ego? Or did you simply not properly think it though?
Are you prepared to get the job done not knowing what to do? Are you ready to get up every morning praying to only make small mistakes and not one that might affect your entire team? Are you ready to taste the bitter taste of failure and defeat and start all over again? And are you willing to be physically and mentally tired for the better part of your life?
As so often, there are no right or wrong answers and you only have to justify your decision to yourself: so if you thought about the above thoroughly enough and are still convinced that getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing, then go and explore the unknown out there! It is a magical place indeed that can offer you the most amazing experiences of your life. But don’t complain once things get rough (which they will for sure) – you wished for it!