Uncomfortable Is Necessary
Pushing past fear and leaving your leadership comfort zone
This is a photo of me, on the right, on a live evening TV chat show last week.
I’m laughing, talking, and smiling. But inside I was terrified.
You see I’ve never been on live camera or TV before.
And for someone who naturally prefers to take a tiny beat and think before they speak, especially in high-stakes moments, the experience was almost petrifying.
My fear was frustrating because the interview was on a subject that I am hugely passionate about; how to create opportunities for more equity in business, and for women. And one which I can talk deeply about for hours.
But live TV is not kind to mistakes and slip-ups. There are no rewrites or second chances.
Waiting in the green room, I was afraid of letting down my two fellow guests - two incredibly successful businesswomen - who were there alongside me.
I was scared of making a mistake that could harm my reputation and damage the trust and respect of my clients. And I was afraid of not meeting the high bar that I set for my work.
The fear of not seizing the opportunity and challenging myself jarred against the huge fear of failing.
The challenge is that stepping out of your comfort zone does mean intentionally stepping forward into a space where you are inexperienced and where it is uncomfortable.
And like it or not, the risk of failure is higher.
Feeling unsure of yourself is a by-product of operating outside of your comfort zone.
And so if you are a leader who is constantly pushing yourself and striving for something more or better, that uncomfortable feeling will always be there.
So if you want to be known as a leader who can seize opportunities, inspire others to achieve their potential, and step outside their comfort zone to grow, the following three exercises will get you started:
Reflect: As we near the end of the first quarter of 2023, take a moment and reflect on the last three months in relation to the scale below.
What proportion of your work/energy/time have you spent on each side of the spectrum?
What specific work took you toward the right-hand side?
How did that serve you?
Design: In your mind draw a circle around yourself on the ground to represent your comfort zone. Then ask yourself (with your eyes open or closed):
What size is the circle of comfort that you drew?
How would it feel to be confined to it for the year ahead?
What would it feel like to step completely outside of it?
If you were to take one step in that direction today what would it be?
Create: Think about your priorities for the year ahead:
How far will they take you beyond your current comfort zone?
What two ways would your mentor or coach challenge you to stretch yourself even further?
What opportunities exist to share your experiences and inspire those you lead?
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