Forced Out Of My Comfort Zone

I’ve been primarily in server management throughout my IT career.  Recently, I vowed to expand my skills into networking. That was an empty promise. I ran into my usual Catch-22 scenario that has plagued me from Day One.  The IT teams that I worked with always has a network specialist. In a crisis, the network specialist would dive in and solve the problem. During normal operations, the team would be engrossed in their regular day to day duties. Realistically, if I wanted to get my hands dirty with networking I would need to do it on my own time.  But as I ranted before, my free time is now divided between Baby Buck, my blog, and my podcast.  

Time To Step Up

The only way out is if I was forced into networking and given no choice. That opportunity is now, as my partner in crime, our company’s network specialist, is out of the office for two weeks due to minor surgery.  With my basic networking skills, it was my responsibility to hold down the fort.  My first test quickly appeared.

Two Takeaways

Some old equipment worked in a corner office but failed to communicate in other offices.  Long story short, all ports needed to be hard set for 100 Mbps instead if the default 1000 Mbps.  I quickly drilled down to the problematic ports and configured them accordingly.  Simple to a networking specialist, but slightly nerve racking and uncomfortable for someone who only does this in simulators. I gained confidence through my minor achievement and discovered two critical takeaways.

Reasons To Defer

I normally would defer to the specialist when a problem arises even though I have the skills and knowledge to derive my own solution. One, I am not responsible for the unknown outcome and two, there is no confrontation.  With my specialist out of the picture, it’s either I provide the solution or there will be no solution.  Also, since I am now the most qualified specialist around. My solution will not be questioned, therefore, no confrontation.

Final Thoughts

In light of this revelation, I have two choices going forward. Design scenarios where I can’t be questioned, thus avoiding all possible confrontations.  Why am I making life so complicated? Deep down do I really want to be a dictator? The more feasible and healthy path is to stretch into other arenas even though there are more qualified specialists around me. Finally, be comfortable with being uncomfortable, leave the ego at the door, and don’t take differences of opinions too personal and label them as confrontations.

What thought process do you go through when stepping out of your comfort zone?

Stay Inspired!

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21 Responses

  1. Sorry about the surgery for your partner in crime but looks like it came at the right time. The opportunity came and you were prepared for it. So now you can actually ask for more responsibility at times and increase your networking skills. You have to be willing to go out of the comfort zones at times to get ahead in life.

  2. Nice job! I think in order to grow, and this sounds cliche, you have to have the attitude of not being afraid to fail. As someone who is just starting their career, I am often placed in situations that I find uncomfortable. I just go in with my head down, trusting in my training and my own ability, and try to get the work done. If I know I have put my best foot forward, I am not afraid to fail. If I fail, I will learn my lessons from it and move on.

  3. krantcents says:

    In order to get yourself ready for the next position, you have to acquire the skills and experience necessary for job. Congratulations! Most people do not step up.

  4. I really take time to think about what I should do next. More often than not, I talk to my loved ones (family and close friends) and hear their varying opinions. Then, compare theirs to mine, and I think again. After that, that’s when I decide.

  5. Untemplater says:

    Sometimes it does take situations like the one where your colleague was out for 2 weeks to push ourselves forward. Nice job stepping up and holding down the fort. I try and take baby steps and getting support from my loved ones when I want to get out of my comfort zone.

  6. I just took a new position where I am in charge of a team that does work I have NEVER done. As the leader of the team, I don’t need to be able to do the work to do my job, and yet I need to be able to understand it in order to support my team as best as possible. So I have to check my ego at the door and sit down with my staff and say “show me how to do this” and be open to learning.

    I would take this opportunity to say to your network specialist (once she’s back)-hey, I realized while covering for you that I don’t know this stuff as well as I’d like. Can we arrange a time for me to get some training on your day to day work? Or perhaps there’s a project you could give me some training on.

    If you can find time now to make yourself better at your job, it will save you a ton of time next time there’s a crisis.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Thanks for the great advice Erin! Fine display of leadership. Your team is lucky to have you leading the charge. I will heed your advice and arrange some time with my network specialist. You are so right. Better now than trying to learn on the fly during a crisis situation. Thanks again!

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