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  • Writer's pictureGinny Telego

Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone

By Ginny Telego

I recently saw a commercial for Keller Graduate School that started out with the phrase “Comfort kills careers.” I couldn’t agree more.

Leaders must be willing to step outside their comfort zone if they want to development skills that are relevant in today’s world. The current business environment requires leaders who are creative, flexible, collaborative, and self-aware. The rigid, authoritative leadership practices of the past are no longer effective in today’s workforce. Generational differences in the workforce are partly the reason for this and leaders need to understand how to leverage these differences along with other differences that are the result of a more global business environment.

A month ago I had the privilege to be invited to Qatar, with my colleague from the University of Kentucky, to co-facilitate an equine assisted leadership development workshop for a group of Directors from the Qatar Foundation in Doha. This was my first foray into facilitating equine experiential leadership development internationally. It was also the first time that the Qatar Foundation offered equine experiential learning to their leaders. I had to step outside my comfort zone to take on this opportunity but I am so glad I did as I learned a great deal from the experience.

The workshop participants also were stepping outside their comfort zone and were curious about what they would learn about leadership from the horses. Being curious is a willingness to step out of our comfort zone. Through carefully selected exercises, the participants experienced self-awareness and gained confidence in exploring their own leadership skills. They saw what happens where there is not clear communication or consistent leadership. Participants realized that building trust is paramount in being a leader that others will follow. Based on evaluations at the end of the day, the benefits they experienced from the interactions with the horses and debriefing sessions afterward far outweighed the challenge of stepping out of their comfort zones.

When leaders become resistant to learning that takes them out of their comfort zone, they are essentially blocking their own growth and possibly the growth of the organization they are tasked with leading. Comfort doesn’t just “kill” careers, it also prevents organizations and even communities from achieving their potential. When we are complacent in our comfort, we find reasons to resist change and those reasons are more about our own perceived self-preservation than anything else.

What are you doing to challenge yourself in your professional development? Are you curious to learn how to face those challenges?

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