Venture into New Territory

Albert Einstein said: “A ship is always safe at shore, but that is not what it is built for.” This message strongly resonates with me as I reflect on the key milestones throughout my career. Embracing opportunities that require us to operate in unfamiliar territory can be daunting. The rewards and growth that live outside our comfort zone, however, are well worth the challenge. Over the last 19 years, I’ve had the good fortune of working for world-class organizations under inspiring leaders who supported my professional advancement into roles that often required a steep learning curve.

Growth opportunities can surface in many different forms. Some scenarios require stepping into a role or area of the business in which you may have no prior experience, while others involve relocation. This can present professional, as well as personal challenges. Meanwhile, other situations are challenging with regard to their magnitude and scope of responsibility. It is my belief, though, that no matter what shape or form advancement opportunities take, we owe it to ourselves to consider embracing the next “uncomfortable” step, so we can reach our full potential. We’re often ready to conquer these situations, despite not always realizing it.

While each transition is unique and offers its own set of learning experiences, there are a few common practices that I adopt to stay grounded during the onboarding process.

  • Embracing the “learner mode” period and resisting the urge to accelerate the process, using the early days as an opportunity to understand the business and talent within the team. This involves spending a disproportionate share of time observing and listening, as opposed to launching into action.
  • Operating with confidence and humility to build trust and rapport with the broader team. This approach creates an environment in which you can feel comfortable exposing all that you do not yet know or understand about the business.
  • Exercising patience with yourself and the process is important. A marathon mentality is more helpful than a sprint mindset to avoid burnout and neglecting personal priorities.

As leaders, we are in a unique position to help positively influence others by creating healthy work environments, where our teams can be challenged and supported beyond their comfort zones. In turn, this fosters professional growth and positively impacts the bottom line. The best way to identify these opportunities is to understand the business needs, recognize the strengths of those around you, and promote team members into roles that allow for advancement while pioneering new ground.