10 Steps to Failure – Stepping out of the comfort zone

10 Steps to Failure – Stepping out of the comfort zone

As we go through life it is easy to get comfortable, in fact for many of us, this is the end game. We learn to rely on the tried and tested and scoff at the new, dismissing innovation and progress as a passing phase that will soon pass. And while there will always be a place for experience and expertise, it is tempting to stay within the safety of what we know rather than pushing on and challenging ourselves with new experiences and taking a risk.

I found myself in this situation earlier this year. I was offered an opportunity to take on a new challenge. My heart told me to grab it, this was the opportunity I had waited years for, but my head was telling me I would fail and I should walk away now and stay firmly within my comfort zone.

As I wrestled with a decision, a few well-chosen words from a colleague stopped me in my tracks, “Fear of failing is not a good enough reason to not try”. I couldn’t argue with that. She was right and no matter what stage we are in our careers or how senior our roles, there will always be new challenges, whether that be keeping pace with technology, the changing profile of our customers and clients, or taking on a new role. It is imperative that we challenge ourselves regularly and continue to develop every day or run the risk of becoming irrelevant and outdated.

So, to stop me running for the hills at the first sign of a crisis as I face this challenge, I have devised my 10 steps to failure plan. Now I know this would logically be called 10 steps to success, but failure somehow seemed a safer bet! Read on…..

I am not entirely sure if I have plucked this idea from the pages of a long ago read self-help book, so forgive me if you have seen this before, however, I think I may have put a new spin on things. On my wall above my desk, I have pinned a large sheet of paper with the heading “ Do not give up until you reach number 10”. I am allowing myself 10 gut wrenching, sleepless nights/doom filled days before I give up the challenge as a no-hoper. My theory goes that by the time I reach number 10, I will have learnt 10 valuable lessons on this journey, all of which stand me in good stead to enable me to carry on regardless. I have decided that these 10 steps to failure are the building blocks of experience and ultimately success.

It is five weeks since I took on this challenge and I look at the sheet of paper every day. It is a safety blanket, allowing me the opt out if things get really tough. So far there is only one item on the list, which actually turned out good in the end – even though at the time of adding it to the list I thought I was doomed. It was a lesson learned and a new experience in the bank. I am of the view that our greatest successes come, not always from the highs, but from how we have dealt with the lows in life. Anyone can get lucky, but not everyone can carry on when the muck hits the fan and the easiest thing to do is crawl back to the comfort zone and forget it ever happened.

I am an optimist and I am looking forward to getting to number 10 on the list – but I won’t be stopping there…

 

Estelle Woods

estelle.woods@orcid.co.uk