Harvard Business Review

If You’re Not Outside Your Comfort Zone, You Won’t Learn Anything

Summary; Public speaking. Attending a networking event. Confronting a coworker. These are uncomfortable tasks, but sometimes need to be performed for us to grow professionally. So how do you move out of your comfort zone? It’s simple: be honest about your excuses; recognize your strengths and take advantage of them; and finally, jump in. If you make a few mistakes along the way, don’t worry. It’s just another part of the learning process.

You need to speak in public, but your knees buckle even before you reach the podium. You want to expand your network, but you’d rather swallow nails than make small talk with strangers. Speaking up in meetings would further your reputation at work, but you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. Situations like these — ones that are important professionally, but personally terrifying — are, unfortunately, ubiquitous. An easy response to these situations is avoidance. Who wants to feel anxious when you don’t have to?

But the problem, of course, is that these tasks aren’t just unpleasant; they’re also necessary. As we grow and learn in our jobs and in our careers, we’re constantly faced with situations where we need to adapt our behavior. It’s simply a reality of the world we work in today. And without the skill and courage to take the leap, we can miss out on important opportunities for advancement. How can we as professionals stop building our lives around avoiding these unpleasant, but professionally beneficial, tasks?

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