At Talentedly, we are obsessed with professional growth and innovation. So it goes without saying that we actively avoid “the comfort zone” because that is where innovation goes to die. When you’re comfortable, you take fewer risks. And if you’re not taking risks, you’re not learning, nor are you creating and innovating.
Challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone takes real courage, but it’s something that the most successful leaders — and innovators — do on a daily basis. They strive to redefine the status quo, not merely rely on familiar people, places and ways of doing things; “the same old” more often than not results in failure.
Here are three simple exercises you can try to help you get out of your comfort zone:
- Do something differently. If you always wake up at 7:30 a.m., wake up 15 minutes earlier. If you watch TV before bed, try reading or meditating instead. Go to the same conference every year and see the same people? Go somewhere else and make new connections. Different = new.
- Embrace the “other”. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve developed strong opinions, preferences and beliefs that impact your professional success. Your innovative spark can’t light unless you are open to the “other”. Michael Specter talked about the impact that denying can have on us at TED (it’s worth the 18 minutes). You can start small by making a connection with someone opposite from you. For example, if you are in sales, schedule lunch with someone in customer service see how the “other half” lives. Another tactic is to read material from outside of your industry. We guarantee that you will, at the very least, learn something new.
- Restrict yourself. This may seem counter-intuitive, but placing artificial restrictions on ourselves can force us to think differently. If your weekly report is due on Wednesday, find a way to be done by Friday – chances are you’ll find a way to complete it more efficiently. Or say you’re brainstorming ways to hit quarterly sales goals or starting a new product line — dare to explore the unexplored and challenge your beliefs. (Our Board won’t let us do that! We can’t offer a discount!) If Reed Hastings had followed the convention in the media industry, would orange be the new black?
Innovation happens when you move off the beaten track so make an effort every day to get out of your comfort zone; it’ll do you, your career and your creativity some good.