In an ideal world we’d all have well-paid jobs that only require the skills we excel in. However, the reality is that, in order to move up the career ladder, we often need to push ourselves to do what does not necessarily come as second nature to us. Whether this is delivering a public speech or attending a networking event, we’re all asked to step out of our comfort zone at some point. While some are happy to take on the challenge, others are paralysed by the fear that they’re not good enough. Here’s how you can push through your boundaries:
Be honest with yourself
Start by acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses. Then be honest about why you are taking certain decisions. Did you decline the invite to chair a conference because you were busy, or were you worried you could not handle it? If the truth is the latter, think about what you can do to address that worry. What skills do you need? How can you go about acquiring those skills?
Take the first step
Now that you’ve identified your weakest link, it’s time to do something about it. Start by setting yourself a big goal, then break it down into smaller steps. If your big goal is to improve your public speaking skills, for example, the first steps may be signing up for a public speaking course followed by addressing a small work meeting. This is where you set the ball rolling.
It’s vital that you approach this learning experience with the right frame of mind. You may get overwhelmed at the novelty of it all, and perhaps feel you’re never going to be as good as so-and-so. The secret lies in embracing this fear and uncertainty. Don’t let it hold you back and hinder your potential. Accept that it’s normal and human to feel uncertainty and that it’s OK to fail. What’s important is that you keep going.
Give yourself space to grow. This can only happen if you put yourself out there. Stop turning down opportunities and say ‘Yes’. So if you’re asked to address the next company Annual General Meeting and your first instinct is to say: ‘No way, ask so-and-so to do it’, take a step back. Take the plunge and say ‘Yes’.
Stop comparing… and be yourself
Somehow your colleagues can seem smarter, more efficient and more organised than you. Learn from them and take the good – but make it your own. If you are timid by nature and look up to a vociferous colleague who always aces presentations, you don’t need to deliver your presentation in his or her style. Play on your strengths and adapt your newly-acquired skills to your personality.
Realise you’re not alone
You are not the only person on the planet who panics at the thought of challenging your comfort zone. Keep that in mind. Everyone has an Achilles’ heel, even on a work level. But not everyone lets it trample all over their career progression opportunities. The very fact that you’re doing something about it, places you one step ahead.
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