COVID-19 has impacted everyone in some way and our ways of connecting, working and thinking. With hybrid and remote working in play much has changed and with it we need to ramp up our adaptability, innovation and collaboration, all key competencies in workplace success. This requires us to get comfortable being uncomfortable and into what I call our stretch zone.
Comfort and fear are the enemy of progress.
Change is one of the few constants of life and it requires us to embrace uncertainty. Many people resist getting out of their comfort zone while some embrace it, it all comes down to how you are wired and the reference and experience you associate with it. Change makes us feel uneasy as it takes us into the unknown and moves us away from things, we are certain of. Change is needed and imperative in the workplace as I really believe change equates to growth, new learnings and possibilities.
What will it cost you to stay in your comfort zone?
There are few people who actually enjoy the feeling of being uncomfortable. The biggest challenge is to get past wanting to return to the norm, so you can grow and benefit from that discomfort. Failing to do this stifles performance, innovation, collaboration and staying relevant. I believe adopting a Gift Mindset can help. This where we embrace and see the gifts in both challenging and positive experiences. These ‘gifts’ once distilled down and understood can help progress ourselves and others forward. These gifts could include the ways we deal with change, growth and resilience. These are all important skills and traits to allow you to welcome change, challenges and new ways of thinking and doing.
If we live within a safe zone, there is no growth – nothing changes. To break out of it, stop focusing on what you need to do and instead, think about who you need to be. It’s not always about the process, but who you’re becoming to make it happen. The changes we face in the workplace can come in varying forms. The most successful people, leaders and business owners embrace unknown change and take risks to grow. They don’t stay with what is comfortable – a trap that is easy to fall into. Change can come in the form of innovation, a new role or team or challenging the status quo and new ways of working.
Here’s a few key strategies to help build habits to stretch yourself:
Know the reason and the why for change
- Take the time to make sure change is for the right reason
- Build a support network and step into the stretch zone together, a great way to learn and grow
Focus on what isn’t changing
- When dealing with uncertainty focus on a few things that aren’t changing so you have a measure of stability around certain things to help you deal with what is changing
- Look at things that are stable in your life such as certain people in, your role, routine and so on
Know what lights you up
- Tap into your strengths and the things that motivate you and make you feel alive
- Leverage the strengths of those around you to embrace uncertainty as “one team”
Don’t be nervous or “awfulise” what could go wrong
- Reframe the situation by being excited, lose the words nervous/anxious
- Think about what could go right and reference back to a positive change you have experienced
Delegate what you like doing
- Delegate something you have grown from to empower someone else
- Utilise this time to learn and try something new
Embracing unknown change can take time and courage. The more self-reflective time you create with your peers and team, the more you can embrace and reap the rewards of living in the “stretch” zone and make this part of your workplace culture.