Need to reach Professional Heights? Escape Your Comfort Zone
The first time I heard about “Escaping your Comfort Zone”, was four years back while I was in my first job and listening to our newly selected CIO. Someone in the crowd had just asked him about one success mantra which got him to this role.
Sitting there in the auditorium, I couldn’t understand why someone would give up something which he or she aces in to go after a goal that does not play to their strengths. At that point in my career, it was too early for me to make sense of those words of wisdom. I was used to seeing people around me hold onto their comfort zone with all their might.
The aggression with which many defended their projects and teams draw similarities the ferocity of hunting animals marking their territory. In organizations which thrive on IT Operations & Maintenance, knowing the levers & gears of the system is like a pirate possessing a map to the treasure chest.
Now four years later, I can finally understand the importance of letting go of your comfort zone. Five months back, I had been handed over the reins of a project with a 300+ workforce and a negligible Return on Investment (ROI). After months of long work hours, fire-fighting mode of operations, shuttling between cities & hotel rooms, we had brought the project to stability. Not just that we brought it to stability, but we drastically improved the ROI by 50%.
But once we had reached a state of stability, sluggishness set it. From a state of adrenaline pumping rush, we had slid down to a state of predictability & repeatability. Without even answering the phone we knew what had gone wrong where & even knew the solution to it. There was no challenge left, we could do our work with our eyes closed & still ace at it. But more than anything, we stopped learning.
While holding onto our precious comfort zone and playing to our strengths which we perfected over time, we often lose an opportunity to learn or experience something new. In spite of all the framed motivational posters up on the wall, way too often, we fail to see the learning opportunity each new challenge carries. We have been accustomed to think that the comfort zone we have reached is a reward for all the effort we have put in to gain the knowledge & strengths.
Slowly, but surely, our comfort zone becomes our brain’s retirement home. Remember during school days how we forgot all what we learnt by the time we returned from vacation. Our job’s comfort zone is a vacation where our brain goes into retirement, but unlike in school here one cannot have a long learning curve. To stay ahead of the curve it is important to keep oneself challenged always & learn something new.
Everybody have different ways to keep a check on their career. Mine is to keep checking what am I learning new in the job I am performing. It needn’t be always something quantifiable or good enough on your resume. It could be a social skill or a communication style, but as long as it enriches your career, you are headed in the right direction.
Get out of your comfort zone and get learning – That’s probably the biggest aspect that may take you to professional heights!