career advice, career management, Careers, entrepreneurs, personal brand management, Personal Branding, Sales and Marketing, self employed, small business

Move Out of Your Comfort Zone BUT Stay True to Your Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | February 17th, 2011

Get out of your comfort zone. This is sound advice but not always easy to execute. Doing the same old same old is not a great recipe for creativity, innovation, and professional growth. What keeps us from moving forward? For some, it might be fear of the unknown or fear of failure. For others, it might be discomfort with change or an unwillingness to appear less perfect or expert in what we do.

An article I read this weekend in the NYTimes by Alina Tugend titled Tiptoeing Out of One’s Comfort Zone quoted Dan Pink as saying “We need a place of productive discomfort. If you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive. And if you’re too uncomfortable, you’re not productive. Like Goldilocks, we can’t be too hot or too cold.”

The reality is that trying new things, stepping into new roles, taking on new challenges can be uncomfortable. One way to ease the discomfort of staying on the edge and not drifting into complacency is to ensure that at least some things remain the same. Remaining authentic to who you are – your passions, values, vision and purpose – keeps you grounded in a reality that makes moving out of your everyday comfort zone easier.

If you are true to your values, they will help you make those choices that enable you to perform at your peak. Being clear on your contribution and your unique promise of value gives you a solid foundation from which to make your leap into the greater unknown.

So what happens if you ignore this advice, this inner voice, this feeling that it doesn’t “feel” right and decide to take on that particular project, job, or new client? Think back to a time in your career when you did just that. You accepted an assignment or position or you took on a client that you knew did not fit your parameters and who you thought might be a problem. What happened? Were you successful? Were you happy? Were you proud of the work you did?

Researchers say that under these types of circumstances your stress level goes up and your performance deteriorates. The premise for gaining clarity of your personal brand and staying on brand is to ensure that you perform at your peak, do what you love, and love what you do. Knowing what works for you and what makes you shine will act as your barometer, measuring and evaluating each new opportunity.

Ellen DeGeneres is known for trying new things, making significant changes in her life, and staying true to who she is. She has been successful at overcoming major obstacles by remaining on brand, clear about her values, passion, purpose, and vision for the world. Last year DeGeneres took on a role as one of the judges on American Idol. In announcing her resignation from the show it was clear that this position was not in line with her values. She told People Magazine, “I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge and sometimes hurt their feelings.” Staying on brand for her was more important (and felt better) than getting the increased visibility of being on a popular TV show.

So make your personal brand your litmus test when moving our of your comfort zone. Stay on brand and you will make the right decisions every time.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to clarify, communicate, and leverage their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

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