BREAKING OUT OF COMFORT ZONES
“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” – Robin Sharma
This is a quote whose potential I have come to realize and appreciate in 2018. This has been the year of stepping out of my comfort zone time and again, and realizing each time that the instant discomfort is always outweighed by the feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction that follow. With an engineering degree and IT experience in my background, I had not thought about becoming a part of a startup company at this point in my career path. When I first spoke with IGHE’s CEO, Mei Long, I was not sure how my past experience could help me contribute to the company if I were to join the team. Mei, with her extensive background in the ‘startup world’ informed me that working in a startup was going to be totally different from my prior projects and roles. She was willing to give me a chance to join the core IGHE team and help me learn how to work in and advance a company from the bottom up, if I was willing to put in the time and effort required of me.
As I was first explained, every day has been/and is a challenge and an adventure when working to establish a corporation. In my 6 months with IGHE, I have covered a wide array of tasks, including cold calls/emails, hosting cross-country conference calls, networking within the realm of Education and Technology, website development, social media marketing, and also an International business trip. I remember the feelings of uncertainty at many turns during the course of my work, but I realized over and over that the instant doubt always led to a new lesson, a new accomplishment (no matter how small) or a new connection. Another new adjustment was working from home and not interacting with colleagues on a daily basis. I also had to set up a new time schedule due to connecting with folks in India (and consider the time difference). And, of course my “new” personal Business cards!
As initial conversations with folks in India progressed, we decided to visit India to meet with them in-person, understand the requirements of students, professionals and organizations, as well as gain an overall insight into the Indian market to best understand how IGHE can provide optimum products and services to the Indian audience. The trip itself was another step out of our comfort zones, for Mei the fact that it was a foreign land and dealing with a vastly different business audience, and for me the fact that we were to meet with some of the biggest names in the Finance, Accounting, Technology and Education worlds as IGHE leadership. Add to that the final fact that we both were to travel to places we had never been to and figure out all details as we went from city to city. Yet, for all the initial hardships and hurdles along the way, the trip was an overall success for the company in several aspects.
One of the biggest supports to me has been my discussions with Mei. IGHE being a startup company, I have the opportunity to converse with our CEO on a daily basis and she has the opportunity to directly monitor my work. Her guidance and ‘pep talks’ are a constant help for me to learn and improve my performance. As we continue to work hard towards making IGHE an established and trusted brand across the portfolio of products and services offered, I continue to step out of my comfort zone, some days a little and on others, a lot more.
As a final note, I can confidently assert that moving out of your comfort zone is the most important step in achieving all subsequent milestones for your venture. Every day in a startup will challenge you to push your boundaries in new directions; accept each challenge and it will result in an upwards march toward final achievement. Karen Salmansohn agrees with me when she states,