Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Stepping Into the Limelight

Last week at work, my managers requested that I facilitate a discussion during our bi-weekly department meeting. I was excited about the opportunity to do a trainer-type activity, and also a bit nervous. My official title fluctuates among "eLearning Specialist," Instructional Designer," and "Trainer." I've had ample opportunities to flex my elearning and instructional design muscles, but very few opportunities to actually lead any discussions or in-person training sessions. While I love all aspects of my job, I realized that I really do miss being a trainer. I also realized that if something as simple as leading a discussion of my peers could make me nervous, I've been living in my comfort zone for too long.

Comfort zones are exactly that: the place where we feel comfortable, where everything is familiar and safe. The problem with comfort zones is that they don't foster growth and development. And without growth and development, how can we improve ourselves?

I started thinking about how comfortable I've made my life. I very rarely get nervous or anxious about anything! While that seems wonderful on the surface, I have to ask myself, "Am I really growing as a person?"

When I was younger, I used to get nervous about piano recitals, sleepovers at friends' houses, babysitting, cheerleading competitions, and a plethora of other activities. It's not that those things wouldn't make me nervous now (because they totally would!), but I don't put myself in situations very often anymore that would make me nervous. I feel like it's a bit of a shame, because after all of those activities, I'd be exhilarated and proud of myself for performing well or for handling uncomfortable situations.

Because I'm not continually putting myself in nerve-wracking situations right now, does it mean I've become complacent? I gave this question some thought, and then realized that there are more ways to grow than to just throw yourself into scary situations (although this has been my inclination in the past). Stepping outside your comfort zone can be something as small as doing new exercises in the gym or trying to actually match your gym clothes for the first time ever.

Or stepping outside your comfort zone can be something as big as going after your Pro card. Deciding to do Team Universe was scary. Announcing that I was doing the show was even scarier! I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to do well, and am focusing all my energy on doing what I need to do in order to bring my best physique possible to the stage in 10 weeks.

So while I'm not constantly putting myself into nerve-wracking situations, I AM preparing for my most nerve-wracking experience ever, when I step outside my comfort zone ... and into the limelight on stage.

What things are you doing to step outside YOUR comfort zone?


  1. Kari thank you. On a personal level, this really hit a soft spot. This post really justified my feelings on this personal issue. So, again, thank you Kari. :)

  2. Nice post. We all need to challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zones. That what separates exceptional performers from average ones... well, that's part of it anyway.

    And when you do it often enough, it changes from something that's frightening to something that's exciting. Even the little things. I've often found myself wanting to try something new at the gym, but I'm scared. I might do it wrong and look stupid, or worse hurt myself. But now that I've faced that little challenge so many times, when I'm ready to try a new exercise I can't fall asleep the night before because I'm so excited that I can't wait to wake up and go do it.

    And professionally, the folks on my team who do the best are the ones who embrace challenges. You definitely learn and grow from it. Cheers!

  3. Great post Kari girl! I believe we always need to stretch ourselves so we can grow, but that doesn't need to be bunjee jumping or diving with sharks. Little things make all the difference.

  4. WOW..i was JUST thinking about this. how some choices that i need to make get pushed back because i'm too comfortable pretending they are not relevant, but they are. i'm not sure i'm ready to deal with that situation (it's life changing), but i need to start making steps even tiny ones to continue my growth. what that means? who knows..i do know..that i'm starting to think now..

  5. Whenever I am presented with an opportunity that is exciting but makes me want to throw up, I know I MUST do it. Rarely is it fun in the prep for it, but afterwards I just fly.

    Its a very odd indicator, but it works for me. When you push yourself to the bring of failure, whether it be at the gym or in life, that's where the real growth happens.

    Proud of you! :)

    Now you have me thinking about what I MUST do...and I kinda want to throw up a little bit....

  6. Great post! I have always set goals for myself but this year, doing my first figure show has proved to be the biggest challenge of them all. I'm so happy and thankful that I've stuck to it and will continue to grow and learn everything I can. Thank you for reminding us all to push the envelope!