Outside your comfort zone



We all have that 'comfort zone', both in the working and private aspects of our lives, where we are comfortable. There is no risk, no feeling of uncertainty or trepidation, we know we can do it and feel safe. It's important to have that safety zone, but stepping beyond that zone, driving towards the risk or uncertainty can be exciting and bring the greatest rewards.

Finding your comfort zone

As a kid, I was never one to step beyond that safety zone, and that zone wasn't particularly large either. There were a few things I felt comfortable doing (we'll get to those in a bit), many things however terrified me. Exams (I was never good at those), standing up in front of the class, confrontation, even just voicing my opinions. Through my time in college and university, through to my early career, that didn't change much, and I still fear exams. When I look back however, I reflect on the things that have pushed me through my life, the things and people that have impacted my life and, sometime with out me realising, have challenged me to step outside my comfort zone. 

So where was my comfort zone? Oddly enough it was free climbing in the Lake District, taking a kayak over a water fall, tearing down the hills on a skateboard or somersualting 15ft in the air on a trampoline. Not the most of traditional 'safety zones' and at times, not that safe either. I have had my fair share of injuries.

Stand me in front of a group of people to speak and I was terrified.  That was OK, fear is something which we can use, build on and harness to our advantage. I know, easy to say that, hard to put in to practice.  

If anyone had told the young me that I would be speaking at events or on Webinars (not that webinars existed back then) I would have laughed.  Though, in the past year, I have done just that, started my own Blog and pushed myself well outside that safety zone.  

Our comfort zones change as we grow and as experiences shape us, whilst mine have to some degree remained as they were 30 years ago, I have had to adapt my zone as life and business challenges have come and gone.  

Life beyond the zone

It's not just in what we do that we can strive to step beyond that safety zone, why not try it when faced with a business or data challenge?
Don't fear failure, fail fast, learn from it and move on.

Think back to a recent business or data challenge you have had to address.  How did you start to look at your options? What questions did you ask yourself? Questions like...

1. What is the problem?
2. What have I done before?
3. What do I know could help here?

We often look at a problem from one perspective, ours or that of something familiar. How does that then affect the solution or the answer? Do we bring our own bias or preconceived perception to the solutions we build?

Naturally, we do, but does that deliver the best solution every time? Probably not, stepping outside our safety zone and looking at the challenge or problem from a detached perspective can bring a fresh view to how you formulate the solution. In an upcoming Blog post, I will be talking about how my team and I recently did just that, which resulted in an analytics platform being used to create an enterprise data management platform.

By looking at a problem from a different perspective, looking at what solutions and technologies we already had in place and challenging them to see if they could answer our business need. We were able to build, test and learn very quickly.  There were points where it looked like it could have been the wrong choice of direction, failure looked on the horizon, but we kept going and continued to learn from small failures. 

A final thought

There are in our lives, people and events that shape us, good, bad, successes and failures. Be it with in our personal lives or work lives, see these events as opportunities. Look to how you can challenge yourself, and remember, it's OK to fail, learn from it and try again.

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