Monday, December 22, 2008

Leaving the Comfort Zone

A week ago I held my first talk since university. It was the first talk in my life I held in English, and I was scared like hell. It felt like living through those exam days back at school all over again - just that this time I thought I'm old enough to realize that it'll all be okay. I'm obviously not.

I acted just like I did back in school. Or worse. I waited for the last possible moment before I started preparing the talk. When I finally started with the slides, a little perfectionist devil Manuel sat down leisurely on my left shoulder, telling me that this crap is just not up to my own standards. I worked long hours the night before the big day, and woke up early just to be able to rehearse the whole play before entering the stage.

Of course everything worked out just fine. Well, besides me saying basic-a-lly all the time. So why was I so freaked out? Well, I was obviously leaving my comfort zone.

Now the interesting thing beneath all that personal drama I'm ranting about is that I suddenly realized for how long I did not really step out of my safe little comfort zone. Granted, applying at Google is not the most un-stressful experience I ever had. And obviously starting a new job with all those bright people around me did not exactly make me fell warm and cozy.

But at that very moment I stood there, my peers gazing absent-mindedly into their laptops, my hands slightly sweating, I suddenly realized that ever since I started working I was doing everything exactly in the way I was most comfortable with. And that was kind of a shock.

Of course after giving the talk I felt great. I had known that in advance, but I realized that without being nudged enough I'd probably have tried to wiggle out somehow.

Lessons learned:

  1. It's easier to step out of the comfort zone when somebody kicks your ass.

  2. It's a long way from leaving your comfort zone once to real change.

  3. I must learn how to leave my comfort zone on my own.

Do you know tricks that make it easier to leave the comfort zone?