“Getting uncomfortable” doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you’d strive for, does it? With couches as with careers, being comfy seems like the perfect stopover when it comes to deciding where to take your foot off the accelerator. As many successful people will tell you, however, the minute you feel at ease is when you should start getting revved up again.
Ex-Polyvore CEO and tech darling Jess Lee put it aptly when describing her decision-making process at the beginning of her career (her successes as an “honorary co-founder” of the curation software company is the stuff of start-up legend). Still in college and unsure where her future would take her, she landed in front of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who gave her some advice she never forgot.
“[She said] when she looked back at her life and her career, she always tried to take the more challenging path, because even if you fail, you would grow and learn something at the very least,” she told Collective Hub. “I was like, ‘OK, that’s great advice’, so that’s why I ended up going to Google.”
In fact, it’s not just successful CEOs that confirm the positives of taking a trip across the borders of your comfort zone: your brain applauds it too. Experiencing new things actively triggers the area of your brain that releases dopamine, the happy chemical. The ‘travel bug’ isn’t an unfortunate side-effect of eating something a little off-colour – it’s a neurological reaction to your brain discovering and learning new things.
Think of it this way: what can you learn about something you already know? You’ve got to make a little space for something new, even if it feels a little daunting having some space that needs to be filled. In your mind, you’ll fill it with failure – in reality, you’ll fill it with experience.
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“Our fear of the unknown and our fear of making mistakes trick us into focusing on what we don’t know or can’t do,” Kristin Smith, the COO for moving and delivery marketplace Dolly, Inc., perfectly articulates. “When we give ourselves the freedom to be uncertain and less than perfect, then we can start thinking, ‘What do I know? What can I do?’ That’s when the adventure starts – learning, thriving, conquering, failing, recouping, and having a tonne of fun.”
It’s time to get (un)comfortable.