Indeed, learning happens only once we step out of our comfort zone.
I still remember the day I stepped on a podium, for the first time, to present to 500+ audience. I was scared and worried that I would stutter; or worse still completely forget what I had to say. I practiced and practiced, but the butterflies in my stomach refused to go.
The first large project that I handled was a nightmare! I had never worked on a project of that scale and scope. It had multiple stakeholders with conflicting priorities. To top it, I was working with a freshly minted team. The next 12 months were a roller-coaster ride, the project seemed an untameable beast! But, I managed to deliver to reasonable satisfaction of the client.
Few years back, I was in-charge of driving a critical project on culture. Again, I stepped into an unknown terrain. Things were fuzzy at the beginning, but clarity emerged with passing time.
When I reflect, most of my learning happened only when I stepped out of my comfort zone. However, it’s never easy to step out of comfy shore and step into rough waters. Few things that helped me over years:
- Conquer the fear of failure – be ready to trip and fall. Make mistakes early on, but learn from them quickly
- Accept ignorance, ask questions and seek support shamelessly
- Break the problem into smaller pieces – making it seem manageable and easier to handle, while allowing to stay focused on larger picture.
- Belief in self that you can do it. You have done it before, and you will do it again!
- Surround yourself with optimists, positive energy is akin to sunshine for plants.
“If we are growing, we are always going to be out of our comfort zone.”