NOTE: As I told my newsletter subscribers, I decided to focus my blogs and social media in August on personal growth since it has been my topic du jour this summer.
Are you comfortable?
Hopefully the answer is YES if you are curled up on the couch reading a good book. But if you are thinking about your own personal growth and development, I am hoping that your answer is NO.
Research has shown that a lot of our learning takes place outside of our comfort zone. Sounds easy enough. Yet who wants to leave what we know from time to time to learn something new? Me for one. Here are 4 ways I have pushed, shoved, and propelled myself out of my own personal growth comfort zone.
Attend a learning event because you want to- not because you have to
I have certifications that need continuous education credits to stay certified. For many years, much of my personal development learning focused on getting those credits. Then I heard about what seemed to be a rebellious event – with no Continuing Ed credits – and I signed up! And it was awesome. In my conservative thought-filled world, it shouldn’t have been – downtown Chicago (I live I the suburbs), at night (I am a morning person), 5 minutes per speaker (What?) and no credit (See above for my anxiousness already spewed on this.)
Even though the event was nearly two years ago, I still remember what it felt like to be present. I now seek that same enthusiasm from events I choose to attend because I want to be there.
Be more vulnerable
Author and speaker (She has one of the most watched TED talks) Brene’ Brown talks about the power of being vulnerable.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” – Brene’ Brown
And if we want to work on ourselves we need to show our vulnerable, authentic selves. For me, this has not always been easy. I equated being vulnerable with not being a strong of a leader or co-worker. I have learned this is furthest from the truth. By being vulnerable in conversations, I have been able to receive feedback and praise that I might not have actually “heard” prior to my mindset shift.
Take on a stretch role, assignment, or project
You typically hear of stretch assignments related to the workplace, which is true. Organizations use this professional development technique as one way to grow top performers. Here, I am referring to you, yourself, taking on a stretch project for your personal development. Trust me when I say it is harder to put your own hand up than when someone is encouraging you with the possibility of a promotion or bigger salary.
I learned about stretch roles by joining nonprofit boards and then ultimately leading a nonprofit board. When I was approached three years ago about being part of the President’s track with my local HR group, I was a bit nervous to say the least – President Elect, President, Past President. At the beginning, I asked myself “What were you thinking getting into a 3-year leadership commitment?”
Now serving in my third and final role of this track, I can honestly say I am so glad I took the leap. I have learned so much and grown as a leader. In fact, the opportunity to lead along with the people I have worked with on the board have inspired me to growth my leadership skills even further. I will be a member of the class of 2019 in a local community-based leadership program. I am ready to stretch again.
Expand your network
This may sound clichéd, but as I have expanded network outside of my own professional groups, I feel my ability to problem solve and see issues from new perspectives has grown immensely. When I talk with people in other industries who do something completely different than me, I am utterly amazed at their stories and insight and want to learn more.
By meeting new people, I expand my knowledge level and start to grow relationships that would have not begun if I stayed in my circle. Some great ways to do this include chambers of commerce events, Meet Up groups, and personal introductions from those already in your world.
I stay out of my comfort zone for my personal development as much as I can. There are days when it takes more energy. I encourage everyone to at least give it a try.
P.S. – If you click on the links in this blog, you will start working on your personal development out of your comfort zone. You’re welcome.