Doing what you’ve always done and expecting different results?
One of my favorite quotes is “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” by Tony Robbins. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced a variety of circumstances that have forced me to frequently adapt to change, seldom appreciating the ‘comfort of a routine’ for too long. I’m of the opinion that change can positively impact us if we learn from our experiences and apply that learning for growth and progress. If you want different outcomes in your career you may need to do things differently.
Years ago when I first began supervising staff I was out of my comfort zone but perhaps too young to recognize and proactively manage it. A group of us worked our way up through the ranks and brought with us a fairly diverse collection of experiences and knowledge to the management level. This was a culture of high productivity where generating sales and saving time and money were what mattered most. We knew what it took to run the business at least at the customer interface level—we knew what was expected and what would get the job done according to very rigid standards. What many of us lacked was the ability to proactively manage our careers and recognize that this was an important early step in our careers and how to leverage it. My key takeaway from this early experience that applies today involves recognizing that opportunities are everywhere and that you just need to be proactive enough to step out of your comfort zone and accept new challenges even if the opportunity makes you uncomfortable.
Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Can Advance Your Career
Increase knowledge and develop skills and abilities
When you are given opportunities to get out of your comfort zone seriously consider taking them. I’ve been given many such opportunities and even though some were extremely stressful I’ve been able to find value in each of them. Just because you’ve never done something doesn’t mean you cannot do it. You may even be very good at it; you’ve just never been given the opportunity to try. You can proactively seek opportunities by volunteering for teams (task forces, committees, etc.) or signing up for rotational assignments if they are offered at your place of employment. You could also benefit from working in groups different from your area of expertise or at a higher level. Exposure to diversity can stimulate progress and your professional development if you are open to it. Working with higher levels can also expose you to different, and perhaps more strategic, schools of thought where you can benefit from the knowledge itself as well as from new ways of solving problems and reaching consensus.
Grow your network (and potential)
One significant benefit of getting out of your comfort zone involves growing and enriching your network. Establishing and growing relationships with individuals different from your area of expertise or within another industry can enhance your ability to think on a broader scale. Your perspective may change as a result of new insight. You can then apply this insight and perspective as you take on new stretch assignments and continue to advance your career. Your beliefs and existing viewpoints may be challenged as a result of interacting with new people. This can be healthy as you work through the process of re-affirming or altering your beliefs. Everyone can benefit from enriching existing relationships and establishing and growing new ones. So are you doing what you’ve always done and expecting different results? If so, decide if you really want different results and take action today to set in motion a plan that will position you to realize those results.
Tuesday Strong is the Founder of Strong Performance Management, LLC, an Indiana-based firm that helps individuals own their professional development for the life of their careers, not just the jobs they’re in.