In our early stages of life, it is natural to try new things and learn from experiences. A newborn has no knowledge of words, numbers, foods or smells until it is exposed to them. Without trying, there is no knowing. And without this process there is little opportunity to be educated.
However, as we get older, this process can start to slow if we become afraid of the unknown and of failure. Because failure is scary!
However, if you can get past the awkwardness of being outside your comfort zone, there is always an opportunity to keep learning and therefore be more successful in your life and career.
Here are our top 8 things that will make you successful:
1. Waking up early
Modern life. It’s exhausting! Whilst it may seem like squeezing in some extra minutes of sleep is going to make you super productive, the opposite is usually true. Your energy, focus and mental capacity are at their highest during the morning hours, only to wane throughout the rest of the day.
Take advantage of that time before breakfast when the chaos of the day has yet to set in. For most people, waking up early is a learned practice. Set aside some time to wake up properly and don’t jump in to complex tasks whilst your still dazed from your slumber. A smooth transition between bed and the workplace will help you to plan for the day and organise your priorities.
2. Admitting a mistake
Everyone has experienced that moment when you’ve realised you’ve made a mistake. The dread plummets to your stomach and your face burns with panic.
However, after the initial moment of rear, ask yourself some key questions:
· Can the mistake be reversed? If so, how? And what are the consequences?
· Who should know about the mistake?
· Who can help you remedy the problem?
· Do you need to contact anybody to explain what has happened?
What’s your plan? If the mistake isn’t immediately reversible, you’ll need a plan of action. A good plan is the best antidote to mistake-induced discomfort. Shift from panic to determination as soon as possible, and that discomfort will subside.
3. Public Speaking
This one had to be on the list. The fear of it has its own name – glossophobia!
It’s natural to be fearful of public speaking. We’ve all been there. Having that many ears and eyes judging your every word and movement is petrifying. But, in contrast, we all know how compelling a good public speaker can be and how much it can advance your ability to lead and inspire.
So, how to conquer your fears?
There are hundreds of techniques, but the obvious point is that it is impossible to memorise your whole speech. Instead, memorize your key points and your pivot lines. Pivot lines are the sentences that will move you from one key point to another. They act as navigational guides for your audience and a momentary comfort zone for you. Use these pivot lines to reset, take a breath, and move to your next key point.
Understand that everyone wants you to succeed. You are not going into battle. You are not facing a firing squad. These people you are talking to are all decent, interested folks. Many of whom also suffer from glossophobia. So know they are friendly, and talk to them like it.
4. Taking critical feedback
This one stings sometimes, but it’s important. Learning to hear criticism without turning your back to it can be a real achievement in your career.
Think of critical feedback as a cheat sheet. In giving you direct feedback, your manager or colleague is giving you a shortcut — your own personal konami code — to becoming better at your job.
Sometimes, even with the best intentions, taking feedback well can be a struggle. Your impulse will be to protect yourself; to get defensive, or stop listening.
So, be conscious of it. Much like accepting a compliment, take a breath when you realize critical feedback is coming your way. Listen to it all without interruption. Write down what you can. Then, ask questions to make sure you’re interpreting it right.
5. Giving critical feedback
The only thing worse than taking critical feedback is giving it. Whether you’re a manager or a friend, feedback is an opportunity to help someone get better. Don’t waste it. Good coaches give feedback directly and with respect. Don’t try to soften the blow or talk around the feedback. Doing so may make you feel better but it will only serve to confuse them.
If you’re struggling to be direct, try one clear line followed by detail. For example, “John, what you’re doing isn’t working. Let’s talk through why…”
Ultimately, knowing how to improve is as important as knowing what to improve. The person receiving the feedback should leave the conversation feeling empowered to change, not broken down.
6. Networking and making small talk
Everyone has a small-talk formula. Some people start with the weather, while others ask how things are going with you at work.
Here’s the trick to mastering small talk: Be fascinated by watching people who are good at it.
It’s a little like being dealt a hand of cards, you can use what you have to get to bigger and more interesting plays. If someone asks you how work is, don’t say “fine” — or worse, “busy.” Tell them it’s good and follow up with, “You know, there’s one project in particular that you may find interesting.” If you’re doing the asking, take any opportunity to dive deeper. Use each question as a spring board to the next one. Eventually, you’ll hit on something substantial.
7. Getting in over your head
Of all the uncomfortable moments, getting in over your head is probably the one most worth pursuing. Sure, it’s a little scary , and there’s always the chance of failure, but nothing stretches you more or makes you more creative than having no idea what you’re doing.
So how do you put yourself in an over-your-head style situation? Raise your hand. When there’s a project no one wants, step up. When there’s a problem that has existed for years, have at it. Then break it down. Take big challenges and tackle them piece by piece. It may not always be fun, but you will almost always be better for the effort.
9. Promoting yourself
You only have to log on to LinkedIn to realise that there is a fine line between self-promotion and arrogance. Used in the wrong way, self-promotion can be a great way to massage your ego, but there’s also a way to promote yourself to the benefit of you and your company.
We are taught not to be overly self-promotional. We are encouraged to value the achievement rather than the accolades. But there trick here is to work out the difference. Not everything you do deserves broader attention. But some things do. In those cases, talking about them doesn’t make you an attention junkie, it makes you a good communicator. If the personal attention makes you uncomfortable, focus your advocacy on the work itself. Draw attention to the discovery, milestone or lessons uncovered by your effort. Your company will be better for it and you will too.
But this is really just the beginning. What will make me uncomfortable could be a walk in the park for you. Decide on what makes you uncomfortable and decide how to conquer your fears. You might just find that by doing so, you achieve some great successes at the same time.
This article was adapted from a blog, written by Meghan Keaney Anderson at Hubspot: https://thinkgrowth.org/15-uncomfortable-things-that-will-make-you-more-successful-a7a7788825ee