Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

June 3rd, 2013 | Articles, Job Search | 1 Comment »


In a fast-paced job market, one second you may be master of competitive techniques and the next, you may be clinging to a set of quaint antiques. According to Google cofounder Larry Page, the problem for many modern businesses and professionals is that they feel satisfied enough when they improve their business, product, or skills by only 10%. This type of approach at best keeps you aligned with the rest of the pack and at worst, in his words, leads them to “decay slowly over time.”

So, where does the problem lie?

Larry Page speculates that this type of incremental improvement is how most people feel comfortable. When we push forward into risky, ambitious challenges, we exponentially increase our chances of failure. The pursuit of an emerging, untested technology or an exhausting, mind-wracking project requires a lot of work and may not even provide the expected payoff. In younger generations, this fear of failure seems to have particularly taken root.

According to the Wall Street Journal, many people have hunkered down in survival mode thanks to the recession but Jeff Selingo, a columnist with The Chronicle of Higher Education, feels the problem goes further than that. In a recent article, he discussed the risk aversion of recent college grads. In his opinion, most universities function like vocational schools that simply train students for limited job functions. When opportunities to take risks during their formative years aren’t present, college students are less capable of taking risks and making that bold step outside the bounds of their comfort zone.

What’s the solution?

If you follow Page’s approach at Google, you strive to improve yourself to 10 times your current capabilities. That can be a bit vague, so Jeff Selingo recommends a more manageable approach: expose yourself to unfamiliar situations and allow yourself, at times, to fail.

Jumping into an unfamiliar project or situation forces you to approach a problem with a whole new perspective. In these situations, you can’t entirely rely on a typical fix or frame of mind. You have to innovate, think outside-of-the-box, and explore foreign ideas that might give you the ability to overcome completely new challenges. Even when you fail during these projects, you will gain valuable lessons and build your repertoire in ways that were otherwise unimaginable.

So take a risk. Reach out to improve yourself by 10 times your current potential and even if you fail, you’ll have gone further than all the other 10 percenters.

by James Walsh

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One Response to “Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone”

  1. Don Sharma says:

    Hi, nice article. I really like it!