Making The Choice Against All Odds

comfort zoneDuring an extraordinary career as a senior banking executive, I was often given opportunities way beyond my comfort zone. Yet, having established a track record of success under circumstances of massive change, ambiguity and uncertainty, I was often asked to take on more such roles. In retrospect, I realize this may have stemmed from some early life experiences. Whenever people told me I was not good enough or smart enough to pursue a particular course of action, I became hell-bent to accomplish said action. And yes, that was a pattern of experience in my youth.

As a result, whenever senior leaders came to me with a request that seemed impossible, I readily agreed to attempt it. Some of my colleagues thought I was crazy, for example, when I suddenly moved from Upstate New York to Rhode Island to work for a man who was commonly considered brilliant but terrifying. (Who could turn down a job like that?)

I knew, even then, that if I failed, I would learn so much in the process that it would be worth it. And since learning stuff is at the core of what drives me, I just had to do it. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, because of the doors that continued to open after that one.

It can be very difficult to see beyond the immediate decision to the longer-term consequences or outcomes, so how do you do it? You learn to trust your gut instinct, even when everyone else is on a different page. I realize this takes courage. And it takes a belief that whatever happens will be okay.

You need to have faith that you will be able to deal with it, to figure it out, to get the help you need when you need it. And that can be a big leap.

It is also important in the process to fully understand what is most important to you at the time. Is it being safe? Is it being comfortable? Do you need to have control? Or, is it, as it was in my case, the desire to have a new experience, to learn things I did not know, and to change my environment, including the people around me?

Ask yourself today: What choices are you making? Are they keeping you comfortable or helping you grow? And how do you feel about that?