Recently, my associates and I agreed to take a significant leap out of the carefully constructed comfort zone of our work environment. After many years together in an informal, small office space, we have joined the consulting division of a large and respected accounting firm that is home to almost 300 employees. Intellectually we know that this enables us to offer more services and stability to our clients; but stepping outside of a comfort zone can produce a mixture of feelings.
Each of us live in a self-imposed comfort zone where familiarity offers some protection against anxiety. Here, a sense of security surrounds us. It is comparable to slipping into a comfortable pair of well-worn jeans. Outside that zone awaits a world of new experiences and challenges which offer the potential for learning, along with the potential for failing, and thus, fear increases.
Some personalities seem more open to venturing out than others, but all of us have the ability to make a concentrated effort to expand our comfort zone. As with so many things, the key is in taking baby steps. Regular brief excursions outside the comfort zone can cause the zone to stretch and increase confidence while offering reassurance that we can hastily retreat if necessary. Giant steps, on the other hand, are more likely to cause anxiety and may make it more difficult to leave home again.
For example, it may be difficult for a “meat and potatoes” diner to visit a sushi restaurant, but trying a different meat and potato may expand their zone so that over time they become more adventurous in their food choices.
When giant steps are required, preparation becomes important. For our team, having the opportunity to talk with helpful “guides,” visit our new environment and have a transition plan helped pave a pathway into a new zone which, with time, will greatly enlarge our comfort zone.
The ProfileXT® and other assessments can help identify who will be more comfortable in taking risks and those who may need extra support. If you foresee a change coming with your business or have those on your team who need assistance in that area, we can help! Contact us with any questions.
Linda serves as a Principal in MCM’s HR Consulting practice, and has experience working with various-sized companies throughout a variety of industries. Linda’s experience in organizational development, training, executive coaching and hiring assistance spans over 25 years. Previously, Linda was the President and Owner of Personnel Profiling, Inc., an HR consulting company that offered a suite of employment assessments and services to help companies gain a competitive advantage by hiring, retaining and developing great talent. Linda’s formal education includes a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Louisville with a concentration in counseling psychology. Linda and members of her team will be ongoing contributors to the Academy Blog.
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