Navigating unchartered waters in your career and business?

Have you ever heard this one before?

‘If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing’

I personally don’t like this sentiment at all. But I get the idea behind it.

Here’s another way of thinking about it: ‘If you're comfortable for too long, then you are plateauing. You are not exploring new situations, honing or acquiring new skills, or expanding your capabilities’.

For me, I like to feel competent and comfortable when I do things - even if they are brand new and for the first time - who doesn’t, right?

Generally, when we try something new right out of the gate we aren’t automatically a pro at it. The learning curve, the honing and the practicing can be really uncomfortable. But that’s what’s necessary to expand, improve, grow and add skills; to be able to deal with new situations.

Also, when we try that ‘new’ thing, or experience a new situation, it can feel incredibly uncomfortable AND messy.

But, that doesn’t mean you’re failing. It doesn’t mean you are wrong. It means that it’s new. That’s it.

I am continuously aware of this back and forth within me - the desire to grow vs. the desire to be and feel competent - always - even when it’s new (please, let’s skip the uncomfortable and messy learning curve part :))….but I was also reminded of this when I was recently working with a client.

My client wants to engage with decision-makers in companies that are lead brands in their industries. She wants a better close rate for meetings than she was getting. We worked on a few new strategies with a couple of potential clients and they worked.

Now, she wants to connect with the next set of clients and wants to reach out to several of them.

The new strategies we spoke about are now making her nervous. She wants to go back to the way she was doing it before. The new process is uncomfortable for her.

See what’s happening here?

Putting it simply, she recognized what she was doing was not working. We adjusted with baby steps and she had success. Now, she needs to expand the number of people she’s reaching out to, making her feeling nervous again. She’s feeling uncomfortable. In her mind, she is thinking it’s the wrong approach. So, she wants to go back to what was comfortable. Something that feels familiar. But, the old way was not delivering the results that she needs.

Just because a step, process, or strategy is feeling uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

It’s the learning curve.

So, when this happens, how can you navigate a situation that’s uncomfortable - or when you are in unchartered waters?

1) Connect with the big picture. What is your intent? Why are you taking this action? What purpose does it serve to the big picture?

2) Recognize the feelings of discomfort. Sometimes, recognizing the discomfort for what it IS can be empowering. Knowing that this is a natural part of navigating new situations can be a comfort and those feelings can start to loosen their power over you. Don’t let that part of you take over. There’s another part of you inside that’s saying ‘You got this. You can handle it’.

3) Take action - one step at a time. Do the work. Think about only the task that is in front of you. Repeat steps 1-3 until the task is done.

4) Reflect and learn. What went well? Celebrate what you did. What would you do differently next time? Make any adjustments. This is how you get better.

Take comfort in the fact that we all experience these situations to some degree or another. And, we are exercising a muscle just like any other. Practicing new things, or trying different ways of doing something is a skill or a muscle that needs working. The more you work that muscle, I promise, you will get better at ‘being uncomfortable’.

Keep going. You can do it.

NOW is YOUR time.