Many times when we’re doing well, and feeling accomplished, it can be scary to deliberately put ourselves in place of doing something new, something different, something difficult.
But that is precisely what leaders do.
Leaders constantly stretch themselves to push beyond their own comfort zone, and reach just a little bit further.
When you do something that stretches you, you find out how much MORE you can do, how much power and possibility you have, and you grow your sphere of influence.
As you stretch yourself, you also bump up against your own limits. This is a good thing. It’s important for us to acknowledge that we have more to learn.
However, you might find that your limits aren’t exactly where you thought they were. Perhaps you realize certain actions aren’t such a stretch at all.
Or conversely, something you agreed to take on – something you thought wouldn’t be that hard – ends up being much more of a challenge that you anticipated.
When you stretch yourself, you often don’t do things perfectly, or even all that well. But that’s OK. Because once you’ve done it, you can improve.
What for you is a stretch goal in your career? What makes you a little frightened, but exhilarated at the same time?
It’s important to keep yourself on that path of self-development and self-growth by doing things that force you to learn new skills, do more than you’ve done before, and take on ever-increasing responsibilities.
But these goals, while challenging, shouldn’t be so far out that you have a colossal failure at work.
Yes, sometimes disasters are unavoidable. But you don’t want to set yourself up to showcase your weaknesses or to cause your clients or superiors to distrust you.
So don’t OVER-commit (I’ve been known to do just that!); instead, figure out what one thing will really be good for your career and take that on.
Once you’ve succeeded in accomplishing that stretch goal – and it might take a while – then you can go on to add the next one.
Have fun with this. Maybe taking on a speaking engagement in front of hundreds of people is something you can agree to do for the next company function.
Or maybe you want to write an article for a professional journal in your field.
Perhaps you want to approach that person you’ve always wanted to know better and ask her how she got the job that appears to you like your dream job.
Maybe you want to branch out into a different field in your company, and so will ask for a project that is outside your department.
Take a look around. The opportunities are numerous.
What will YOU stretch yourself to do? Make a decision, commit to it, and then take action toward that stretch goal immediately.
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.