Surprising Reasons You Need Training That's Outside Your Comfort Zone

A talented athlete might feel weak in the knees when asked to be interviewed on air. A master at the strategy and logic of chess may be all thumbs when it comes to catching a ball.  Articulate extroverts often struggle with time management, and analysts can have a hard time being social at work. The point is that each of us has natural abilities and areas of expertise. It is normal to spend our time on tasks and interactions about which we feel confident and that we do well.   We minimize stress, risk and change so that we stay comfortable. That is our “comfort zone.”  And that comfort zone is different for each of us.

The problem with staying inside your comfort zone is that little change occurs there; you don’t grow or develop professionally or personally.  When you stretch yourself to learn and act outside your comfort zone, you will reflect on that experience and apply what you’ve learned. That process may be uncomfortable and you may feel uneasy, but your comfort zone gets larger and you feel more engaged, motivated and challenged. That’s how you grow.

Each year when the program for the Administrative Professionals Conference and Executive Assistants’ Summit is created, the developers seek to include sessions that will challenge a diverse group of administrative professionals. The goal is to help each attendee get outside her or his comfort zone. The following titles are just a few of the sessions scheduled for the 2018 APC and EA Summit.

 Which will help you move out of your comfort zone?

  • Heading into Office 365: The New World
  • So You Think You're Strategic - What Does That Mean?
  • Succession Planning for Senior Admins and Assistants
  • Multi-Tool Efficiency: Evernote, OneNote, Microsoft Forms, and Flow
  • Project Management with Outlook and OneNote Integration
  • Planning and Designing Impactful Training
  • How to Deliver Standing Ovation Presentations
  • Becoming a Skilled Negotiator
  • Planning, Designing and Executing Flawless Meetings & Events
  • Have You Built a Personal Brand? Why You Should and How to Do It!
  • Tackling Office 2019 and Office 365
  • Applying Lean Principles to Streamline Work and Maintain Productivity
  • Cybersecurity: How to Ensure You’re An Asset, Not a Digital Liability, to the Executive Team
  • Stunning, Data-Rich Presentation Tools and Tricks
  • Write It So They Read It: An Admin’s Guide to Technical Writing

You might ask: “Why do I even want to go there? Why can’t I just polish the skills I already have?” Certainly, you do want training that improves those skills you currently have and rely on.  At the same time, the benefits of stepping outside your comfort zone go beyond the new skills you develop. When you stretch your comfort zone:

  • You will see new opportunities more quickly and be better prepared to take them on.
  • You will become more productive.
  • You will be more engaged in your work and more likely to embrace new experiences.
  • You will handle change better with less anxiety and greater optimism.
  • You will gain new insight and perspectives.
  • You will reduce your fear of failure.
  • You will be more creative and be open to game changers in your life and work.

And here’s a last, surprising benefit:  learning new things and acting on them has been shown to maintain your brainpower and mental health (particularly as you age!)

A note of caution: Don’t take on so much, so quickly that you move from stretching yourself to highly stressing yourself!


“If you want to feel secure, do what you already know how to do. But if you want to grow, go to the cutting edge of your competence, which means a temporary loss of security. So, whenever you don’t quite know what you are doing, know that you are growing.”

David Viscott, psychiatrist, author, media personality