On Monday you go to work, say hi to the same 3-5 people, check your 77 new messages, get a cup of coffee, and head out to the first of five meetings for the day. Repeat this process Tuesday-Friday while throwing in a few emergencies, fire drills, a bit of office politics, a couple of kid’s soccer games at night and bam, it is Friday evening and you wonder what happened to the week! Does this sound familiar? You start to wonder when was the last time you were really challenged or engaged in learning something new? When was the last time your boss gave you a real stretch assignment? If this sounds a bit like your life, you might be in the dreaded ZOMBIE zone, aka the comfort zone.
I call it the Zombie zone because you come in day in and day out and not too much changes. You can have a new hire, a small new project, or new customer but the days all start to roll by at a similar pace. You find yourself excited that it is Hump Day Wednesday or finally Friday. You might dread Sunday night and the thought of returning to work on Monday. The antidote to the Dreaded Zombie Zone is to learn something new.
I think I had drifted into the comfort zone this past Spring and summer. The work was still interesting and I loved working with our clients. However, I felt a bit stale at times and did not really feel like I was learning a ton. I was then called by VoiceAmerica and asked if I would be a Radio Show Host. After some soul searching and a bit of nervous back and forth thinking, I accepted and started planning for the show. I was very blessed to work with Winston Price who is a talented Executive Producer. We launched “Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership” on September 13th and now my weeks have more pep in them. I look forward to the show and I am constantly thinking about other people to have on the show or new things I want to try. I have found myself even sketching out thoughts for the show on a Saturday morning. I am fully in the learning zone and I wanted to share a few observations from trying something new.
1. It felt weird at first. It was like using a new muscle. I was so concentrated on hitting the breaks on time, enunciating clearly and following my outline that I did not really connect with the audience.
2. Learning new language takes a minute. There are executive producers, sound engineers, e-cards, segments, breaks, hard stops, rejoiners, teasers and more. I did not realize how many moving parts there were to a radio show and it felt overwhelming at first. I also felt like a novice because I did not know how to use the right language.
3. Mentors matter. Winston has done an awesome job of being patient and has adjusted to my learning style. He broke down what I needed to learn into manageable parts to keep me out of the panic zone. He has also pushed me several times to get into the learning zone and out of my comfort zone. I love the feedback that he has given me and I can see myself growing.
4. Baby steps are critical. I cannot believe how much I have learned since June. I think if someone had given me a big manual in June of what I needed to know by October, I would have been overwhelmed. Also, have some patience when asking others to move out of their comfort zone. I have had Jennifer Owen-O’Quill, Lee Hubert and Marisa Keegan on the show and while nervous at first, they have all done great. To help ease into becoming more comfortable with the show we have thoughtfully planned our discussion, breaks and questions. These baby steps in the learning process have led to earlier success of our show.
5. Not everyone will believe in your vision. Some people raise an eyebrow and look at me funny when I say I am hosting a show. They ask how this helps my core business. I let them know how it is expanding my presence as a thought leader. Many of them sort of nod their head but do not really see it. My learning is that I am excited about the path that I am on and not everyone will agree. Do not let others steal your passion.
I challenge you to look at your daily life and see where you might have gotten into a comfort zone. It might be you are doing the same 3 mile run every day. Maybe you eat at the same 2 restaurants. When was the last time you made a new friend? When was the last time you volunteered to head something up at work? I hope you take on a new challenge and see what you find in the learning zone. I encourage you to sign up for only one or two new things at once as too many might send you into the panic zone. In the meantime, check out our radio show and send me an email with feedback on how we are doing. We are on VoiceAmerica from 1-2pm Eastern each Tuesday.