Daily Buzz: The Perils of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

Working outside your comfort zone is said to breed success, but be careful not to push yourself too far. Also: a lesson from Microsoft on reshaping legacy organizations.

You’ve heard it before: The first step in achieving growth, be it professional or otherwise, is to step outside your comfort zone. But stretching yourself too far can have consequences.

Andy Molinsky, a professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University and the author of Reach, said in an interview with Fast Company that there are three zones of comfort. The first is aptly titled your comfort zone, where the situation is familiar and you’re experiencing little to no anxiety. The next is your “stretch” zone, where you’re experiencing anxiety but at a level where you can turn it into motivation. “When the threshold overtakes your capacity to handle it,” Molinsky says, “that would be your panic zone.”

When people talk about growth, Molinsky says moving into your stretch zone gives the optimal level of discomfort, whereas working in a panic zone can lead to excessive stress or a toxic work environment.

“There is no surefire way [to push yourself], but what you can do is increase the odds for success,” he says. “If you are able to succeed, then you are able to take the leap and perhaps even have some success with it, you’re able to benefit from [stretching outside your comfort zone]. That’s where you start to really develop a sense of self-efficacy, and you can benefit from learning—whereas if you avoid a situation or you choose something so far outside of your comfort zone and create panic, you’re going to create conditions for failure.”

A Lesson on Change From Microsoft

Reshaping a 44-year-old company like Microsoft is no easy feat. Pulling off a new design for the company, with a new workplace culture to match, required participation from teams across product lines, writes Tom Warren on The Verge.

Warren notes that Microsoft, long known for corporate structures that appeared designed to be adversarial, has become more collaborative. Explaining a design critique meeting that brought together employees in different departments, he wrote: “This may sound like a totally normal meeting at most companies. At Microsoft, it would have been unimaginable just 10 years ago.”

For associations trying to modernize legacy structures or processes, the same logic applies.

Other Links of Note

Is it time to expand your staff? Nonprofit Hub shares how to tell if your organization is ready to support a bigger team.

Website visitors are more likely to trust your website if it’s secure. The Wild Apricot blog outlines how to get a website security certificate—for free.

Looking for fresh event marketing ideas? The Eventbrite blog  offers 10½ of them.

(kanjana intaounwong/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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