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Recently I had the pleasure of learning about a new industry, new research, new program, new brands and new processes for a new client. This process was so mind-consuming that I actually challenged myself to question, “When was the last time I learnt so much in such a short period of time? When was the last time I felt this stretched?”
“Stretch to the edge of your comfort zone, as this is where you perform at your best.” This philosophy has always been my mantra and although I chose a career that I continue to have to stretch, one cannot help but crave comfort. In business, comfort perpetuates mediocrity, which may be our demise.
It is human nature to gravitate toward a comfortable approach, the one that has worked before and surely will continue to work again. But in the process of staying within our comfort zone we are missing opportunities to stretch our ability to perform better or win more.
As the owner of a training and development business, I am at a vantage point to experience firsthand what people are willing and not willing to do to improve their performance. At Ignite Excellence we speak about being “unconsciously incompetent” which means we don’t know what we don’t know. The reality is there is always someone one who will have more knowledge, or a different perspective than we do. The question is, are we open enough to hear it and try it?
Six suggestions to keep you at the edge:
- Get out of your own way; your experiences brought you to this point in your career, however, to get to the next level, we need to be open to others’ perspectives.
- Try something new; a sport, a business technique, a sales approach
- Stick to it. Masters were not born in a day. Learning a new skill takes practice. Changing behaviour takes time. Give it an honest effort.
- Do something that gets your adrenalin going. Something adventurous that makes you completely uncomfortable. This will give you the thrill of what you can achieve when you push yourself.
- Learn something that you have never had the time for but always wanted to do; pick up the guitar, take singing lessons, or take an improvisation class.
- Pick a book that writes about a perspective on history, culture, your city that you don’t believe you will agree with, and finish it.
By trying something different, learning a new skill, listening to a new perspective you open yourself up to possibilities.
If we take this same approach in business, we may just find out that our perspective is not always the right perspective; and our approach is not always the best approach. Being open to others’ perspectives and approaches can be the best skill we ever embrace in sales calls, leadership and in negotiating in the boardroom.
Do something on your ‘bucket list’ — start it today. You don’t want to be 90 years old and saying I should have, could have, would have… Besides you just may learn what you really are capable of!