I attended an interesting leadership workshop early on in my career. In one of the sessions we were given some climbing equipment and taught how to rappel. Then, we were led up a few flights of stairs where there was a wall with a ledge. The goal was to stand up on that ledge and rappel yourself down the wall. I’m not afraid of heights, but looking over that ledge put a big lump in my throat. I started to wonder whether this was my employer’s way of cutting back on staffing.
There were a few in my group who were completely terrified of heights. But everyone of us climbed on that ledge and went down that wall. We all supported each other. We took the challenge, faced our fears, were proud of what we did, and from that experience we grew.
The point of this exercise was all about getting out of your comfort zone. It’s important for everyone, and especially for leaders who are expected to embrace change, take on new challenges, and encourage your team to do the same.
Accelerate Your Life Journey
We get one life. And what is our life without growth and new experiences? We learn and we grow every time we experience something new or apply new knowledge. Small things, every day.
Small steps are good; however, if want to really accelerate your growth you can do that by Taking a Leap. Challenging yourself by doing something that scares you or makes you really uncomfortable.
Staying in your comfort zone is, well, comfortable. And while this can feel like a nice warm secure place to be, it doesn’t encourage personal growth and development. To be your very, very best you need to leap. Leap and fall, Leap and learn, Leap and excel, Leap higher!
What do you want to be better at? What is it that you know would elevate your game but it scares you too much to try?
My Personal Growth Story
I’ll share one of my personal leaps and how it impacted my future. It’s nothing astounding, but it was significant for me. What I did was face a few things that were holding me back and engage in a situation that was challenging and scary for myself.
At one point in my career I was in a role that involved wearing many hats. I did commercial lending, personal lending, investments, operations, and a number of other things. As the environment changed there came a requirement to start making outbound calls to customers. This is common in the workplace today but it was a new concept back then.
There were two things that I was particularly uncomfortable with. ONE was that I felt like I had minimal investment knowledge and that I couldn’t give customers credible advice with my limited knowledge. My investment sales were dismal. I wanted to learn more in this field and put it on my list for something I would like to develop further. TWO was that I was not just a bit uncomfortable, but almost terrified of making outbound calls. I did everything possible to avoid picking up that phone. However, I knew this was an important development point if I was going to advance in my career. I wasn’t going to be able to be a leader and encourage and coach others to make calls if I couldn’t do it myself.
So I Leapt – I took a Big Leap right out of the company, left a stable salary with benefits, and went into a commissioned based financial planner role. It was downright scary but I knew I was at a point that if I stayed where I was I would never develop the skills I felt I needed to move forward in my career. By launching myself into the planner role I forced myself to tackle the two skills immediately because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t make any money.
The investment learning part was easier. I loved taking the courses and there was lots of training and practice which helped to quickly expand my knowledge. The challenge was finding the time with 2 small kids, working, and trying to study. The other part, cold calling, was one of the most difficult work experiences for me. Every day, I had to sit in my home office and try and make 30 cold calls in order to get some appointments. And in addition to that, I had to do more of the “N” word. Network. I was simply not someone who would comfortably approach strangers and start up a conversation. I was uncomfortable, scared of failure, and some days I cried because of all the rejection. Why on earth had I done this?
Eventually it got a bit easier and I got better at it. I lasted about two years in the job and had only moderate success in this line of work. It temporarily set me back financially. Personally, it moved me forward significantly.
Expected and Unexpected Developments
What I found when I returned to a leadership role was that I had really elevated my skill set and my confidence since I left. My investment knowledge was beyond what I could have ever learned if I had stayed on my role and I was now somewhat of an expert. Better yet, I no longer had any fears about calling customers. Compared to making a cold call, picking up the phone to have a chat with an existing customer was enjoyable.
Another unexpected benefit came with this. I found I was so much more comfortable talking to people in general. Before, I was that person who went to an event and wasn’t comfortable networking and approaching strangers. Now, I had no issues approaching new people, introducing myself and striking up a conversation. Not only had I improved some skill sets, but my personal brand strengthened.
So even though I didn’t succeed at the financial planner role I never regretted taking that leap because of the value of the experience and the impact on my personal growth. I know I would have ever advanced to a senior leadership role without taking this route.
Leaps don’t have to happen only in the workplace. Life leaps of any kind are just as important. Those things that push you right out of your comfort zone. Going back to school, public speaking, learning to drive, getting on an airplane to travel somewhere you really want to go even though you’re terrified of flying. Like the employees who were terrified of heights, you may need some support along the way. I certainly needed the support of my partner to take my leap.
What’s Your Leap?
What is it that’s holding you back in your career or in life? What do you avoid that’s uncomfortable, yet deep down you know that if you could tackle it your life would take a positive step forward?
I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone. The bigger the leap, the higher the impact. It’s not going to be easy but it’s highly rewarding. Whether you succeed or fail, I guarantee you will learn from it and emerge from the experience as a more capable and confident version of you.
Do you have a personal growth story? Encourage others by sharing your leap stories in the comments!