Get out of your comfort zone, and learn from it
We all have our weaknesses, the things and situations that we try to avoid. But some things, you just can’t hide from forever. For me, large social settings were never my jam. I discovered this about myself shortly after graduating college and started my first reporting job. Going out with a group of people I didn’t know very well and staying silent the whole time? Yeah, that was my reality in my early 20’s and once in a while it still is today. But I’ve become more outgoing and it’s for the better, not just in my personal life, but for my career.
When I became a reporter, I knew what my job entailed; talking to people and hearing their stories. But approaching strangers wasn’t always easy. Sometimes I do interviews called “MOS” or “Man on the Street Interviews.” Before I explain, let me say, for most of my career I’ve been a solo journalist, also known as a Multimedia Journalist, Multi-Skilled Journalist, One-Man Band, Backpack Journalist…the list goes on. This means that I shoot my own video, write my own stories and edit them. I learned to “get MOS,” as we say in the business, quickly, at my first job. You go to a busy area where lots of people are at and ask them questions about a topic for the story that you’re working on. So imagine me, lugging about 40 pounds of gear, many times in below-freezing weather. I’d go up to people and say, “Hey, what do you think of such and such topic?” You run into all kinds of opinions, the people who brush you off before you can finish your sentence, the others who are eager to talk and those who say, “I don’t care.” That’s part of the gig. Everyone’s got their opinions, and it’s up to me to sort through their remarks and tell their story. I work for the community.
By pushing myself to be confidently outgoing, I’ve learned how to deal with different social situations. I’ve learned how to read people. ‘Is this person comfortable with this topic? Do I stay or exit the situation? Do they want to talk? Do they want to be left alone?’ These are all questions, and more, that run through my head each time. Each situation has built my confidence.
I now feel more confident than ever approaching someone and getting their take on what’s happening in the world. I still have my shy moments, but nobody’s perfect. I now enjoy lengthy conversations with people I meet. Sometimes, I feel like I’m talking their ear off. It’s through these conversations, I learn more about our community and can relay that on TV, online and through social media. That in turn, makes me better educated and it makes our community better educated.
Most importantly, through all of these conversations, I‘m reminded that everyone has an interesting story. Most of all, I’m reminded of how grateful I am that I have a job where I get to meet such interesting people.
So, here’s my challenge to you. Get out of your comfort zone at work and embrace it! Take risks. Challenge yourself. I guarantee you will learn from yourself, learn from others and be a more well-rounded employee and person. At 21, I never thought I’d be a conversation-starter in a large group outing. Now I am that person at times and it feels great to have that confidence.
Learn from your shining moments and not-so-great moments. Learn from others and by doing so you may just instill a renewed sense of confidence in someone else. At the end of the day, that’s the most rewarding part.