Well? Do you remember your first time?
Of course, you are thinking, “The first time for what, Bill?”
My friend, Ed DeCosta, recently started an article with this question and I have borrowed some points to share with you today.
As a young boy, I remember the first time I rode my bicycle to a park two miles from my house – it was a big deal because I had to cross some busy streets with lots of traffic. I remember taking the New York City subway for the first time by myself while attending high school as a very naïve 13 year old.
From my professional experience, I remember the first time I presented a proposal to create a new process for assessing 300 people against unfamiliar criteria. There certainly was doubt as to whether my thinking was on target. As it turns out, the client eventually expanded the scope to over 500 people!
These first-time experiences (along with many other examples) forced me to take action when I was scared or nervous, not really knowing exactly how things would turn out. In other words, I had to go outside of my comfort zone.
The point is, any growth in my personal or professional life has not happened by remaining where I feel safe and accomplished.
The same is true for you. Any growth in your personal or professional life does not happen within the constraints or confines of what you believe are your current capabilities. The excitement happens, the growth happens, when you step outside and beyond your current capabilities and comfort zone. When you do this, you are doing something you have never done before; therefore, it is your first time.
When I think about it, I can recall a myriad of things I did for the first time:
- My first plane trip
- The first time I actually landed a plane (true story I’m happy to tell you one day)
- The first time I took my parents car out alone…after I received my driver’s license
- The first time I sold a consulting project
- The first time I flew to a country where I knew nothing about the language
Throughout my life, I have intentionally chosen to do things outside my comfort zone to continue to develop my professional and leadership capabilities. While education (attending a training program or reading a book) is helpful, this alone won’t help you grow that much. Being actively involved in mentorship and coaching programs are two specific endeavors that help me improve my skills and expertise, and often force me to try something for the first time.
John Maxwell says, “Experience is not the best teacher…evaluated experience is the best teacher.” We have to try something new, evaluate our behavior and the outcome, and then determine if we are satisfied or if we need to continue refining.
When was the last time you did something for the first time? If you haven’t done this in quite a while, you are likely stuck in your comfort zone. What I have learned over the years is being stuck stinks!
No doubt you have heard the expression, “If you are not growing, you’re dying” – it is true.
There is a lot of competition in the marketplace today. Those who believe the techniques, methods, and theories which were successful even 5 years ago will learn they are obsolete and may be left behind.
If you are motivated to make a difference, you will need an intentional plan to get out of your comfort zone.
If you want to increase your influence as a leader, you will need an intentional plan to improve and begin to see growth.
Simply wishing or hoping to get better at something is not a successful strategy.
What are you going to do?