Want to Perform Better? Get Uncomfortable
Do one thing every day that scares you; that was Eleanor Roosevelt's advice. The idea being that the more you venture outside your comfort zone, the more you will learn and grow from the unexpected.
In a recent post, blogger and career coach Penelope Trunk outlines the merits of putting yourself in uncomfortable situations when it comes to your career. Her best advice for stretching the confines of your professional safety net? Work with people you don't like.
Here are three great reasons to make your collaborators people who scare you (at least a little bit).
Great minds don't think alike.
You hear this all the time, right? Partner with people who supplement your skills and perspective. Hiring or collaborating with people who think like you will only guarentee that you have more of the ideas and thoughts that you were naturally inclined to generate. Instead of hiring more people who are good at what you are good at, Trunk writes, consider hiring those with a completely new skill set and perspective.
"This means that if you’re good with people, you need to work with someone who is terrible with people. If you’re good with numbers, you should work with someone who is terrible with numbers," she writes.
Homogeneity is the opposite of innovation.
In addition to surrounding yourself with employees and collaborators who compliment your skills, writes Trunk, you have to give them the freedom and tools to do what they're meant to: Rock the boat.
"One of my most successful attempts at being an employee was when I worked for a CEO who was a frat boy. He was still wearing his fraternity sweatshirts 10 years out of college," writes Trunk. But he gave her the freedom and tools to fill the role of "intellect in the company" she explains--and that kind of embrace of alternative viewpoints is exactly what good bosses do.
"They needed me a lot because my way of thinking was so different from theirs. Most of the great ideas we came up with were a combination of my ability to see the big picture and their ability to make my ideas fun and saleable," Trunk writes.
People fear what they don't understand.
Don't shy away from risky hires, Trunk advises. This doesn't mean hiring someone totally unqualified for the position, just giving stereotypically scary groups--like Millennials--the benefit of the doubt. Or hiring talented people from surprising backgrounds.
"I was coaching this woman who is a court reporter, but the court reporter business is going to India and she doesn’t know what to do. Of course, I hired her to write while I dictate blog posts," writes Trunk. She explains that this hiring risk led to some personal risks in the way she blogs--and ultimately a better product.
"I would never have dreamed of hiring a court reporter, but when you pair yourself with someone you never dreamed of pairing yourself with, you do things that you never dreamed you were able to do," she writes. "She can write so fast that we can actually get five posts done in one hour, but only if I’m focused. So what ends up happening is I get really nervous before our scheduled call. I have to prepare, and it means I have to commit to posts that I think I’m going to write, but maybe I don’t want to write."