Taking risks is a common thing on a daily basis. We're taking risks when we walk on a different and unknown path to get to the office because it may be longer than the usual one, we're taking a risk whenever we try new places to eat because we're probably not going to like them.
If we take risks on our daily lives, why not doing the same in our professional career? Contribute to an open source project, suggest changes to our customers' projects, or even make recommendations on how to improve processes in our current job. These are the risks that are really worth it.
Why do we fear?
Many times fear of being judged or the chaos we could unleash by acting differently make us think way too much on the worst scenarios that could happen if we would take a decision that leads us out of our comfort zone.
The term Comfort Zone refers to a state of mind where we feel safe and in (virtual) peace; where even if things are not going well, we feel alright because it has been like this for a long period of time, so we are just used to it. This mindset can be dangerous if we don't handle it well. We might let go opportunities that may bring us a better future, or maybe we stop learning new things by being satisfied with the things we know at the moment, that can lead our career to stall. Getting out of the comfort zone gives us a rational sense of fear because the uncertainty of what can happen if we leave it. Will we feel sad if we leave? Will this new move make me look incapable of doing my job to my managers? Will my client get mad at me if I propose this change?
All this thinking can anchor us in our comfort zone; however, many good things can come if we move out of it!
The rewards of fighting our fears!💪
Fighting our fears is never easy. There's a reason why we fear. Many times we don't think about the awesome things that could happen if we would face our fears and fight them. I've listed some examples I can think about fear in our career paths:
|The issue||Fear||The reward after facing the fear|
|Contribute to open source||- Not reaching the bar of current contributions
- Getting rejected
|- Helping the community
- To give back
- To get noticed by experienced peers/community
|Propose a change to the client's codebase||- Giving a nonsense proposal
- To be judged
|- To help the future me or teammates to have less problems with the application
- Client knows I'm interested in his product
- It goes beyond just developing
|Dive into the source code of a library I use||- Not understand a thing
- Making changes and break the library
|- To understand the what?, how?, and why? of the behavior of the library
- To increase the knowledge of methods.
- More knowledge for current/future projects
- The opportunity to find problems that contributions may have not seen before thus propose a change.
As you can see from the examples above (personal experience situations) fighting our fears in the professional field can be extremely rewarded most of the times. Even if we fail, teammates, clients, and coworkers will notice that we have the initiative on things that may be important for them.
Don't get me wrong, to fear is totally normal for example, I am very scared of what you'll be thinking about this post, writing is not one of my fine skills, but if I never write a blogpost, I'll never improve myself in this area.
- Taking risks is something that we always do, even the most monotone people have to take risks at some point, so we should start considering taking them in our professional career.
- Being in our comfort zone is not that bad, but we may be missing great things that are out there! We need to remember, It's not about LEAVING our comfort zone, it's about INCREASING our comfort zone by making our current one exiting!
- Focusing on the results we could get if we do things differently, would help us we get rid of our fears.
- Failing is not bad! Trying something different tells a lot about ourselves, we learn from our failures. Of course, we should try not to fail every time, but if we learn from it, we are one step closer to success. Also, people will notice we tried to improve something, and that can be really helpful for our career.
- One thought I try to keep in mind is that I enjoy doing new things, sometimes they may make me fail, but the joy of learning new stuff, increasing my knowledge, and helping others are things that make me happy. We are not Software Engineers, Quality Assurance, Project Managers, etc. just because we like to do the same thing over and over again, this profession is a challenging one, and we should learn from all the things we do.
In the end, the worst thing that could happen is that you die... Ok, I went too far, but you got the point, right?
Check out this picture that pretty much summarizes what I try to explain in this blogpost:
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