To develop in our careers we must push out of our comfort zone. The willingness to swim upstream must be strong, as it requires taking a risk.
I was in the same role for over three years and was not happy with the status quo. In the past, some of my own preconceived opinions had limited me from seeking challenging assignments.
This time, with a strong show of courage, I raised my hand for a job that looked challenging. In December 2011, I was selected as CTO ― Technology Integration Program for an LPO that had been acquired by my company.
The tough choice: fast track or remain in status quo
“It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.” —Jim Rohn
I had passed the interviews with the global team and the offer letter was in my hand. My sponsors showed more confidence in me than I had in myself. I was nervous. The role was exciting but scary.
Accepting the offer meant not just moving functions, but moving to a different culture and across the country to a different location.
Deciding whether to accept the new role or remain in the present role was a tough choice I had to make. Like any opportunity, this one had a risk. It would impact my personal life and my career. One cannot make headway without making choices, and I chose to accept the offer.
Pushing past the comfort zone
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” —Francis of Assisi
It was time to give up the comfort zone. I started by doing what was necessary. I had to coach myself and draw up an initial ninety-day transition plan. Having a positive mindset worked. My sponsors invested in my success, and their guidance and support inspired me.
On landing at my new location, I realized that I was unwelcome. Previous attempts to complete the integration had failed due to resistance from the company’s executives.
My first ninety-day planning put me in a strong position. My experiences at building relations, reading up on the company’s business model, spending time with the management team in understanding their apprehensions on integration, and gaining technical knowledge on their systems and processes helped set me on the correct track. I could connect to their problems, and was able to communicate with the people in my company. This helped establish trust.
The journey to completion
“The only limits in your life are those that you set yourself.” —Celestine Chua
I continued pushing myself, and my confidence increased. It was learning and experiencing new things. I realized I had more courage and resilience than I had thought.
My new role allowed me the opportunity to meet different people and build my network. It expanded my learning and gave me an exposure to various company systems. I had access to some key technical expertise in the organization and could leverage their expertise in completing the project.
The project was successfully concluded in a year. It gave me visibility, which helped propel my career. It was worth all the risk I had taken.
My journey on this project and transition taught me some key lessons:
- Taking up new roles outside your comfort zone helps accelerate your career trajectory.
- Push borders, give your best shot. This helps boost your confidence level.
- Invest time in reading and learning. Don’t be shy to ask simple questions. Nobody expects you to have all answers.
- Comfort kills productivity. You will not experience your authentic self and your skills unless you push yourself to accomplish more.
- Plan well both on the home front and at work for the new role. The support system at home needs to be well greased so it frees you of any anxiety. This is especially important for women.
- Stay positive throughout the journey.
- Evaluate the risk, but don’t cave in to fear.