I love being comfortable, don’t you? From favorite chairs, to a job we love, friends and close family – we all strive for comfort. Our comfort zone is a neutral and natural state where stress is minimal. I worked in my comfort zone and thrived until one day my husband came home from a deployment with the Air National Guard and said, “I’m done.”
He expanded on it by saying that while he loved flying and being a member of the military, he was tired of being away from home and missing so many birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, soccer games. His intention was to transfer out of active duty and finally pursue a career as a commercial pilot.
I was excited for him to venture into a new career of commercial flying and see his family more often. I thought this change would make my life even more comfortable. Then the came the realization this change would have on our finances. And that blew my comfort right out of the water.
I came to the conclusion that this was an opportunity for me to “pull my weight” and not relying on him to be our primary breadwinner. It was important to both of us that we share the responsibility of our financial success. And that our success was not dependent on one person’s income being higher than the other.
Working for a local larger nonprofit I loved my job so much that I’d been there for eight years. I felt we were doing great work, and I was proud of my job and what I had accomplished there.
But I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to my boss. I told her I needed to grow personally, financially, and within my career. She agreed with me and said that wasn’t possible within my current position, but she promised to help me find a new job. Taking that risk to be honest with my boss made the transition much less stressful and allowed me to focus on myself and finding the growth I was needing.
A friend shared with me that there was an open position at the Better Business Bureau® (BBB), and that it involved leading a small team. That was all I knew about BBB – that it was a nonprofit with a small team and an open position. I had never used their services and basically knew nothing about them.
I did some research, including reading some of the standard IRS filings for the organization, which helped me identify both strengths and weaknesses about my potential new workplace. To be honest, it highlighted some significant problems. Don’t get me wrong, I love fixing problems! But this organization and position was a risk, and I was outside my comfort zone. In the interview I asked hard questions and pushed to learn all I could about the organization.
After some deep thought and reflection, I chose to take the risk of a new job, and each day I was met with a new challenge. Our development team wasn’t working, we had issues with operational functionality, we didn’t have access to the right information, there were lots of rumors about the BBB to dispute, and more.
Why would I leave somewhere that I was comfortable and happy just to be burdened with a new position full of problems and obstacles to overcome? There were multiple reasons, but I’ll highlight the top two. One, as a family, we needed to make more money in order for my husband to be home more often. Secondly, and even more importantly, I needed growth.
Growth doesn’t happen when you’re comfortable. Growth almost always exists outside of your comfort zone. This new position was a challenge, but I took it head on and grew with it instead of shying away from it.
Trust me, I still love my job, and my family. However, I have a newfound appreciation for risk and the benefits of conquering it. Risk enabled me to learn more about myself on a multitude of axioms and levels both personally and professionally, develop new relationships, and lead an amazing organization.
Some important questions to ask yourself when you are searching for your own growth; what risk, or risks, do you need to take to grow? Where is your comfort zone and how can you step outside of it?