7 places to step outside your comfort zone and get promoted

Sometimes the things we want to do the least are exactly the things we need to do to get promoted. The issue is that there are many times in our life, both personal and professional, that personal advancement requires personal growth.

In some cases, personal growth is in the areas we love to pursue. For example, if you love playing tennis and want to become a nationally rated player, you have to practice, and maybe take lessons, to improve your game. If you love playing tennis, then personal growth in this area is welcomed and anticipated. As a counter example, if getting promoted requires learning to successfully manage projects, but delegating work to others is difficult for you, you have an issue. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means that you must step outside your comfort zone to acquire the skill.

As techies, or for that matter as human beings, there are a number of areas, both personal and professional, that we may not naturally be comfortable doing. Some of these items that follow, may be on your list.

Learning technologies you don’t currently know: This one may sound funny for a techie, but it’s very common. Maybe you are a COBOL programmer and would like to update your skills, but the needed body of knowledge seems too large to undertake.

Giving a presentation: For many people, the thought of standing up in front of the room and giving a presentation, particularly if their boss is listening, is petrifying, and seems like a fate worse than death.

Leading a project: Leading a project requires taking risk, taking responsibly, delegating work to others, setting objectives, and meeting deadlines.

Writing documentation: Many software developers hate to write documentation. Programming environments don’t have spell checkers. Maybe English is your second language. Many programmers believe that if you can’t read and understand the source code, you shouldn’t be trying to modify the software; therefore, documentation within the code has no value. Maybe for some people these are nothing more than reasons to not write documentation, because they do not feel comfortable doing it.

Training users: Training users on how to use the software you have written may feel frustrating and/or scary. First, training is like giving a presentation and we already talked about that one. Second, what if the users don’t like the software you created? Then what?

Cross Training other programmers to do your job: This may just seem wrong. It’s your job, why should you teach someone else to do it? Additionally, you have too much work to do to spend the time.

Learning the nightly production cycle: Wow, there is so much to learn. What if you’re on call one night and can’t fix the problem. You will have to call people in the middle of the night and wake them up.

When reading this list, some of the items may resonate with you, others may seem funny or contrived. Truth be told, I have seen all these objections over the years and at the end of the day, these objections were primarily based on fear and/or discomfort by the objector, rather than on objective considerations. Additionally, all of these items hindered the professional growth of their owner. The takeaway here for you is to sit back and think about what comfort zones you must move beyond to grow as a person and a professional.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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