I’m transitioning to a new stage in my development as a specialist for communication in English. To be honest, I should have done this a year ago, but I didn’t. Why not? Things were going OK. I felt safe, happy, comfortable. It was the easy option to stick with what I know. But now I realise I’m not happy with that. I need to push myself to make the next step. A step into the unknown. That’s scary, but also exciting, and potentially more rewarding (not only financially).
To inspire myself to make this step, I’ve looked back on other times in my life when I’ve left my comfort zone. Here are some of them:
- When I left university, I hitchhiked to Germany with the hope of finding work. 15 months later, when I returned to UK, I had learned a new language, made friends for life, and (unknowingly) set myself up for my future career.
- Lying on a beach in Thailand on holiday, a friend suggested we give up our jobs and backpack around the world for a while. I quit my job and he didn’t, but I went on my own anyway – a fantastic experience.
- During this round-the-world experience, I did the “Awesome Foursome” in Queenstown, New Zealand, including a bungee jump with 60 metres freefall. One of the best days of my life.
- As CEO of a company in Düsseldorf, I concluded that the best strategic location for the office would be in Berlin. The board agreed and we implemented the move. My wife and I moved house as well, leaving family and friends to live in a new city. Two years later they fired me.
- At the age of 55, after 30 years in the international moving business, I decided to change my career entirely. I quit my job, re-trained and started helping business professionals communicate better in English. It’s not been easy, but I love it.
Here’s what I’ve learned from these experiences:
- Stepping out of your comfort zone helps you learn fast. You’re in a strange place and you either need to adapt, or get out of there. But going back is not an option, so you adapt.
- Taking those steps opens up so many opportunities, many of which you can’t know about at the time.
- Sometimes the risk is rewarded, and sometimes it doesn’t work out. When things don’t go smoothly, it’s still a learning opportunity, so it’s never a “failure”. You never go back to the start, so it’s always progress.
- These experiences help make you unique.
- You have to do something different to get the real highs of life.
- Only by getting out of your comfort zone do you extend your comfort zone.
Questions for you:
- On what occasions have you stepped out of your comfort zone?
- What did you learn from these experiences?
When are you going to step out
And one more question:
- Do you know someone who needs help in stepping out of their comfort zone when communicating in English at work?
If so, I'd be happy to contact them and see if it makes sense to work together.