“Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You”

Posted  | 4 Comment(s)  |  by Amy Kosh

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

I came across this quote years ago and have quietly adopted it as my mantra. I try my best to stick to it and keep it in mind when faced with something particularly challenging. 

As a career consultant, I routinely encourage and “nudge” candidates to step outside of their comfort zones and engage in activities they find scary, uncomfortable, and challenging. I present it as a growth opportunity and a necessary step in their personal and professional development. However, I have found that as career consultants, we freely give this advice from the comfort of our desks in a role in which we feel extremely comfortable. 

Earlier this year, I was offered the opportunity to travel to Moscow to train a group of employees to become Career Transition Consultants. Although I was terrified at the prospect, I was also excited, and I knew that the answer was never going to be “no.” If I did not take this leap, I wouldn’t grow and evolve, both personally and professionally.

In preparation for my trip, and upon my arrival, I found myself outside of my comfort zone for the first time in a very long time. I traveled alone, could not speak the language, could not read the Cyrillic alphabet (EVERYTHING in Moscow is written in Cyrillic!) and had never conducted this type of training before. Although I have been in this industry for quite some time, I still feel like a “newcomer” as a consultant. And although I have conducted many seminars within the walls of Career Partners International, this was something entirely new, and the unfamiliarity of my environment and stretch of my skill set was very stressful.

After spending a week in my new environment, I learned something about being in this space: it can be scary and disorienting. But I learned something else, too: by the end of my week’s stay I had started to adjust to the new environment. I was taking the metro alone, enjoying my new commute, exploring the city on my own, conducting successful training sessions and making new friends.

Perhaps the most important thing that I learned from my trip is this: it is so easy to avoid risks and stick with what feels “safe.” It is comfortable and familiar, keeps anxiety at a minimum and causes less stress. This makes leaving the comfort zone, into discomfort, a very scary process.  

Forcing myself to step outside of my own comfort zone gave me a new level of appreciation for what my career transition candidates go through every single day. My trip was a priceless reminder of how easy it is to stay safe and keep doing what “we do,” instead of taking risks and being uncomfortable. While it is easier to stay within our normal routines, it is also stagnant and - dare I say - boring. It is the risks we take and the discomfort in which we put ourselves that truly allow us to grow, thrive and be successful.

What have you done recently that forced you to step outside of your comfort zone? 

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  1. Kim's avatar
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    What a great reminder Amy! Thank you for sharing your journey outside your comfort zone. I recently facilitated a session with my colleagues on a topic that I was uncomfortable with. I learned a lot from the participants and survived the experience!
  2. Mel's avatar
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    I remember the time when I took the leap to migrate to NZ - it was very scary and I had so many people make me question myself and that decision. I could have easily stayed home, keep my job, and have friends and family around me - comfortable. But I knew that if I did not at least try, I would spend the rest of my life wondering "what if". And I think that's the thought that drives me to try new things - do I want to live a life of "what if"s or do I want to live life knowing that I tried? Thanks for sharing, Amy!
  3. Amy's avatar
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    Mel, I couldn't agree more. And I'm sure you have reaped the rewards for having taken the risk. Thanks for commenting!
  4. Vlada's avatar
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    Amy, you are 100% right. I remember the time when you were in your challenging uncomfort zone in Moscow as I was one of that particular participants you trained. You were brilliant:)
    By the way, you trained the team of consultants who are working for the great Outplacement Project (Organizing Committee Olympic Games Sochi 2014) & we practice this Roosevelt’s phrase every day.
    Each step I do in my everyday work for almost a year leads me to uncomfort zone as the project is challenging. There are a lot of things that I do for the first time & it scares me a lot, but I see the way I grow every day & it helps me to overcome the difficulties & be proud of the results in the long run.
    Thank you that you engaged in the activity you found scary that contributed to my professional growth:)

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