Career Inspiration: Succeeding at the Edge of Discomfort

Discomfort.  It isn't an experience we often seek, especially at work.  Being in control of a situation or an expert in something seems easier than trying something new, especially as an adult.  But discomfort at work, when it offers the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, can lead to incredible personal and professional growth.

A gentleman on my team shared an article from caseinterview.com called "Succeeding at the Edge of Discomfort."  In the article, Victor Cheng shares his experience with being placed in new and challenging situations continuously while working at McKinsey, and how this approach leads to the development of highly talented, capable leaders, particularly at the CEO level.

Mr. Cheng's sentiments are important for aspiring leaders, both from a personal standpoint as well as from the standpoint of how they develop others.  Personally, my greatest periods of career growth came after, and as a result of, projects, roles or situations that were completely foreign to me.  It seemed like once I'd finally mastered something, I was given a new project to lead or a new role to fill, when I really wanted to take some time to "coast".  The process of figuring out how to accomplish something outside my scope of knowledge and experience was, and still is, stressful.  As a benefit; however, results from these experiences include a deeper knowledge of the business, a more thoughtful leadership style, and a greater confidence in myself - knowing that when I face the next challenging situation, I can and will figure it out.  

While it's easy to stay in your comfort zone, some of the greatest experiences and growth will come from the unknown and the uncomfortable situations.  Maybe it's relocation to another city or country, or leading a supply chain project when you've always been in accounting.  Take this opportunity to pursue something that challenges you, and don't forget to savor the experience along the way.

Posted on July 18, 2016 and filed under Career Insights.