Working hard is very important. What you work hard on is even more important.
One thing we all need to realise is that we all work for ourselves, we do not work for anyone else. That includes YOU. You only work WITH others, this is also including your boss. Throughout my career, I have worked with few great bosses, some average bosses, and a lot more bad bosses.
As I grew in my career, I always felt the need to ask for more responsibility. A lot of my bosses were reluctant to give too much responsibility away because they were insecure, but I kept asking anyway.
I wanted to be “out of my comfort zone” so I could test myself and work on developing myself. The only way I felt I could develop was by challenging myself as much as possible, in anything I did.
I tried to vary my roles as much as possible, so I could keep challenging myself and so I wouldn’t feel stagnant. I have this fear that if I don’t challenge myself as much as possible, both in the workplace and in my personal life, then I’m not learning anymore.
I hate the feeling of being bored in life, so the best way is to get out of my comfort zone as much as I can. For example, when I worked in Scotland, I was there for three and half years and I must admit the job I was doing did get boring in the end because I wasn’t challenging myself enough.
So since then, I have vowed to try not to let myself get bored and just drift around in life. I have vowed to challenge myself.
Change is discussed a lot in the workplace, and how important it is to embrace it. The reason I say that is because change makes everyone uncomfortable at first. So, it is very important that we work on being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
When we do this, we are learning and getting better. This is what personal growth really is. By walking into the unknown we are challenging ourselves. When we challenge ourselves we improve.
When I worked in Liverpool for the railway, I was offered the project engineer role. It was a new position within the company and a few other people applied for it. I didn’t have many years’ of railway experience, but I did have nine years of engineering experience.
I had also done a lot of good work since I had the meeting with my mentor and made the necessary improvements. I was offered the job and this made a few of the people unhappy. The reason they were unhappy was, some of them who applied had been at the company for a lot longer than I had.
I had worked in the automotive industry as an engineer, the heating industry as an engineer and joined the rail industry about three years earlier. So, I had experience of other industries which I believed to be an asset, as I could look at things from a different perspective.
But, a lot of people in the engineering industry seem to get angry and upset when a person with fewer years’ experience is offered the job that they wanted.
Some of the other candidates had more than fifteen years’ experience working at the same company, and doing the same job. They hadn’t applied for anything before because they were comfortable in the job they had.
In other words they were “inside their comfort zone”. So, thinking about it, they really only had six months to a year experience. But they were repeating the same job many times for fifteen years. So, who had the most experience really?
Apart from me, nobody had any experience of project engineering. I got that experience through my graduate training and some of the projects that I was already working on.
The other candidates had worked on the shop floor as part of the maintenance teams, and it was very rare that they would be asked to lead any projects. Maybe this was something for the managers to think about.
Or, maybe the guys who applied for the role should have asked for more responsibility. They should have been recommending new ideas, solutions, and projects. If they did that then they could have led these ideas, turned them into projects, and gained the experience required.
3. Challenge Yourself
I like to challenge myself and move “out of my comfort zone”. That is exactly what I was doing by applying for and being offered the project engineer role. I received training on how to use project planning tools that I had never used, and other essential courses that the job required.
Most of all, I built relationships with other people within the organisation that helped me to increase my influence further.
This website is entitled “Highly Effective Leader.” Most of what we will discuss is directed to your life as a team member, and a leader of teams in the workplace.
However, the principles I am sharing can be practiced in any part of your life. Whether that’s at home, with your friends or in any social activities that you are part of.
You can “get out of your comfort zone” anywhere, not just at work. So, with that in mind, where else can you challenge yourself? How are you going to challenge yourself?
When are you going to challenge yourself? What will you do to challenge yourself? How are you going to make yourself more valuable at home and at work?
I want you to challenge yourself at home, as much as you will at work. The reason for this is, this is how you will get ahead quicker, as opposed to others who only try to grow at work. It is probably something you haven’t thought about doing before.
Challenging yourself and “getting out of your comfort zone” at home is just as important. A way to challenge myself both at home and at work was to start this website, and help others.
4. Learn More About Yourself
I mentioned earlier that a lot of my bosses were reluctant to give away too much responsibility because they were insecure. Well, challenging yourself is how you learn more about yourself. By you knowing yourself better, this will make you more secure and less insecure.
You can be the most accomplished person in the world, but the most insecure person too. Work on yourself, know yourself, and make yourself more secure
Personal growth doesn’t happen when you’re in a comfortable state. When you’re uncomfortable, that is when personal growth happens. To grow, we need to work on ourselves, push ourselves, and challenge ourselves.
We cannot grow by accident or by waiting for things to happen. We need to make things happen for ourselves. That is the only way YOU will grow.
Does your company offer you opportunities to grow (e.g. courses, mentoring, or change)? If they do, are you taking them up on their offers? If you are then keep taking them. If you are not, then you are losing out and not growing, which is the worst thing you can do.
If you are still waiting for your company to offer you these opportunities, then you are missing out too. You need to find these opportunities for yourself. Create the opportunities to change by recommending new projects or processes, as we discussed earlier.
Challenge yourself every day.
Always remember, trust is the foundation of leadership. Does your boss and other bosses within the organisation trust you? I ask this because a way to challenge yourself is to apply for higher roles. If the boss doesn’t trust you, then you won’t get the job.
If they do trust you then there is a high possibility that will get the job. Building trust is not easy, and is a challenge. We will discuss building trust on many occasions throughout my future posts.
Do you know where you want to be in 5 years? If not, then you are already there.
When I first heard that statement, it really hit home. That was about 13 years ago, and I took personal growth extremely serious. I encourage you to really think about it too.
Do your best to work out where you want to be in the next 5 years. When you know that, you can plan towards it, and work on yourself to strive towards that 5 year target.
Change and Challenge. Do you walk towards them with not knowing what will happen? Or, do you walk away from them and remain the same?
I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.
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All the best,