The Value of Venturing Outside Your Comfort Zone

Feb. 1, 2020
How to stop thinking, and let things happen as a business leader.

A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to find some new hobbies. I was ready to discover my “thing.” After I was rejected from a calligraphy class due to being left-handed (the injustice!), I settled on tennis and golf. I casually played both as a kid and I figured it would come back to me easily, just like riding a bike. 

Plus, I had visions of leisurely Saturday afternoons, cold drink in hand, playing a round with my dad. Sounds adorable and idyllic, right? There was just one problem, I learned: I wasn't very good.

I topped the ball constantly, I struggled with chipping, and I frequently lost balls.

I would be at the driving range, and look over to see a 10-year-old effortlessly drive a ball further than I could ever hope, and think, “How can he do that so easily and I can’t?!”

It’s a good thing I had the wonderful self-awareness to realize that kid had probably played for years, and there was no reason I should be good after a 15-year break. 

Oh wait, no, I didn’t. I was a huge baby and pouted. 

That’s when I realized: being a beginner, especially as an adult, is hard. It’s uncomfortable, it’s humbling, and it forces you to put aside your ego. But that’s exactly why it’s important. 

Trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is how you grow. Sure, it’s more comfortable to stick with what’s familiar, but where’s the benefit in that? Giving up on being a learner and letting fear hold you back is a one-way ticket to complacency. 

Luckily, I chose a sport that doesn’t care about my feelings. If there’s one thing I learned from those summers of golf lessons, it’s that golf demands letting go of your bad shots and staying in the present moment.

There’s something to that. If you can accept and allow yourself to be bad at something while you work at it, there’s actually a lot of fun to be had in those moments. It’s not easy; if I’m honest, I didn’t pick up a club a single time this year. But I’m determined to start back up again. Quitting just because I’m not ready to join the tour? That doesn’t sit well.

If you haven’t caught on by now, there are a ton of business parallels here. The industry is changing rapidly. And in doing so, it may have forced you out of your comfort zone and into new, unfamiliar roles: leader, marketer, accountant, human resources. In this month’s issue alone, there are articles on hiring, firing, maintaining your Google standing, improving your website and implementing a team pay plan. There’s no way you can be good at all of that immediately. That’s OK. Stick with it, and allow yourself to be a beginner.

See you at the course!

Anna Zeck
Editorial Director

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