I have always been up for a life of adventure. I’ve been that way as long as I can remember. Whether it’s hiking through Arizona, jet-setting off to South Korea, or horseback riding through the Costa Rican country side, I am game.
I have even applied this way of thinking to my career. In college, I took a summer internship in Spain where I had to speak Spanish the whole time. For my first job after graduating, I moved solo across the country from Michigan to Washington state. When my job asked me to travel for work, no matter if it was Columbus, Mississippi or Shannon, Ireland, I eagerly went. However, I had no clue where this willingness for adventure would take me.
After a while, the travel started to become more monotonous than exciting. I told my boss at the time that I was ready for something new. He told me that I had to be the director of my own career; that I couldn’t count on my company giving me the adventure that I wanted.
I took his advice to heart. I decided to create the perfect New Year resolution. I was going to really push myself outside of my comfort zone at work. I was going challenge myself to become a true expert at my craft.
I thought my resolution goals had been met when I was asked to manage a Hybrid Cloud Initiative. I had read a lot about the cloud in a broad sense and how it could be applied for manufacturing but this was a whole different beast. I spent a few weeks studying ITIL processes and meeting with my new team members. I felt better after talking to my team members because they understood what we were doing.
The project start date came and went. After a while, I felt that old itch come back. The truth was, I was still working for the same company. The day to day processes were the same and it was still business as usual.
So guess what I did.
I quit my job and booked a ticket to China in the same week! An old client of mine, Mat, had co-founded his own virtual reality company and he asked me to come aboard. Of course I said, “yes.” Our first mission was to fly to Beijing for a pitch competition. We were one of 10 companies selected out of hundreds to pitch. I met Mat, and two of my new co-workers, Chance and Elbert, at the airport.
The day of the pitch was filled with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. We walked out in front of the room full of investors. Mat and I were tag teaming the pitch. He started and then it was my turn. I took the mic and spoke my lines. We left the room to the sound of applause.
I knew that I had finally met my New Years resolution. I had pushed myself way farther outside of my comfort zone then I even knew possible. I am still on my way to becoming a complete expert in industry but that’s where all the fun is anyways – in the journey.
I hope you take this story to heart because we all have comfort zones that need to be pushed and ways in which we can challenge ourselves. It is when we take those risks that we become better human beings and reach our true potential.