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Why stepping out of your comfort zone is more important than ever

Philippa White is Founder and CEO of The International Exchange (TIE), a comfort zone disruptor. A unique professional development programme that exposes people to global challenges to ignite their human ingenuity and purpose. Following a hugely successful career in advertising working for some of London’s biggest agencies, Philippa launched CPD-accredited TIE in 2006.

There is no question about it. These are strange and uncertain times.

But before this becomes a cliché that traps us in fear and immobility, I’d say there is something extremely empowering about looking at all of this from Peter Druker’s perspective: “When nothing is secure, everything is possible”.

So, if you are sitting comfortably, then I would suggest, don’t.

By doing that you are ignoring a huge opportunity to move from this moment and into the future.

And not surprisingly, you’re not alone in needing to change your way of positioning the challenges ahead.

Companies are also being forced to rethink how they do business, find new business models, and discover new ways of being structured. Interestingly, those companies that have left behind their usual practices and usual points of view are the ones who have fared the best in these trying times.

How? The leaders of these companies have focused on action and learning on the fly. They have empowered cross functional teams and trusted their people to be agile and innovative, and as a result they have come up with new ideas and solutions.

This agility, flexibility, and ingenuity is more important than ever.

And it is only possible if you are willing to step out of that comfortable space.

Our comfort zone is just what it says – a place where life just feels pretty good. No anxiety, we must only use a limited set of behaviours to perform, and we feel very little sense of risk.

But living and working within our comfort zone doesn’t really offer much incentive for us to be the best we can be. It simply doesn’t force us to achieve higher and different levels of performance.

In fact, I would go as far as saying that staying in your comfort zone blocks growth and progress, and as a result, improvement, achievement, and success becomes just that much more difficult.

And, who wants that?

Eleanor Roosevelt summed this up perfectly by saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you”.

If you really do make a conscious effort to leave your comfort zone and take healthy risks in your life, it really will help you to become the best version of yourself and excel professionally.

Post the pandemic, we are also currently facing what the media calls “the great resignation”.

This isn’t a surprise.

You see, humans aren’t meant to be painted into a corner. Society is constantly trying to push people into specialisations. Schools create people to fit for jobs. But the world is changing so quickly, and people not only need to be able to bridge different areas, network with different people and respond to different challenges, they are yearning for it.

It’s too easy in our jobs to drop into a formula and a rhythm where you feel like you are going around the block a bit. People can feel constrained. It’s hard to know how they can contribute. Everyone knows their places in the system.

But quitting your job isn’t necessarily the answer.

What people need to do is find ways to step out of the circuit, their bubbles, their silos, to find their own route. To have the chance to step out of the hierarchy. To do and be more so that they can grow, reach their potential and in the end, be the drivers of change the world needs to see.

This growth is the responsibility of everyone involved – individuals need to have the courage and make the time and investment to see the world in different ways and push themselves to be able to unearth their magic.

More than ever companies are recognizing that people are yearning to be and do more, they are looking for enrichment, wanting to find ways to unearth their purpose.

As a result, companies are investing in this type of growth and discovery, and they recognize the strategic value of being open to doing things differently, and adapting to this changing landscape.

They are not only empowering employees to be a part of this new beginning but are also willing to embrace the change that will be created.  So, it is your choice. You can remain in the comfort of your comfort zone. Or recognize the danger of staying there.

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