It was a bustling Monday morning when Pooja boarded the bus that would drop her to work. For the last 4 years, she was working in this company handling their communications division post her MBA. She loved her job and also excelled at it. In the last 2 years, she had got 2 promotions already. It was her dream come true – the job, people, work, boss, brand everything! However, for the last month or so, she was distracted and upset. Much as she thought, she wasn’t able to pick the reason. Everything was fine at work and home and yet there was an itchy feeling of something amiss.
“Why am I upset? What’s bothering me? Why do I get irritable so often now?” was all that was running in her mind continuously.
She was jostled into reality when her stop came and she hurriedly got down. Her manager, Sudheer was a kind gentleman. Years of experience had taught him when to talk and when to be quiet with his team. When he saw Pooja disturbed, he decided to wait for a few days before talking to her. However, it looked like today she really needed some advice. Sudheer called her for a meeting and helped her talk and unwind.
A few days later, Pooja was back to her cheerful, bubbly and happy self, deeply indebted to Sudheer for guiding her when she needed it the most. Pooja was very fortunate to have a manager who respected her and cared for her well-being. They discovered that Pooja was just way too comfortable and together decided to ensure she moves out of her comfort zone!
There are times when we are so comfortable doing what we do at work, know the processes and people really well and hence are in a happy and comfortable space. However, ask yourself frankly, are there times when you are still bothered or irritable? One of the reasons could be that you are very ‘comfortable’.
Wiki defines Comfort Zone as a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.
At such times, step back and ask yourself a simple question “Am I learning anything new? Am I challenged enough”? If the answer is no, you know what you have to do – become uncomfortable!
“We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.” – Thomas Edison
We grow only when we step outside of our comfort zone. Assess where you are! Ask yourself:-
- What is the most challenging thing I did in the last 6 months?
- Did it feel uncomfortable?
- What did I learn in the process?
- How do I feel now?
A friend of mine did this analysis at least once a year if not more and based on that he was able to leverage great opportunities to learn. Today, he is an expert in his field.
Moving out of one’s comfort zone doesn’t necessarily mean a change in job. Following also classify as challengers:
- Taking additional assignments
- Learning a new skill
- Taking stretch targets
- Working with a different set of stakeholders or geography or teams and many more
Look around you. Many achievements are a result of someone wanting to move out of the comfort zone.
Remember the first time you decided to move out of home for studies or for a job, it was uncomfortable yet exciting, wasn’t it? The first time you decided to drive a car or try an adventure sport? It was all challenging comfort and you derived an extreme sense of satisfaction when you were able to excel at it.
So, as you go back today, think of where you stand in terms of comfort and challenge it! You’ll see a whole new world waiting to be discovered!