Comfort Zone

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Pablo Vales
  • 56th Medical Group
When was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone?  I was recently asked to assume a new leadership position which involves duties and responsibilities that I have never done before, and yes, I panicked.  I have spent my career honing my skills to be the best dental lab technician I can be.  When I was asked to be a flight chief for a flight outside of my career field, I was filled with fear, anxiety and self-doubt.  I was comfortable with my job in the dental lab. It was easy for me, familiar, and I knew what to expect and how to deal with those surprise difficulties that arise in all jobs.  I had become too comfortable and had not challenged myself to become more diverse.

Seeking out and accepting a new challenge is what we need to do to progress as successful leaders.  We must continually push ourselves to conquer our self-doubt and optimize our productivity.  Too much comfort in your life can lead to complacency which results in mediocrity and sub-standard performance. This is not the message we want to send to our Airmen. 

If you want to be a leader in the Air Force, you must take risks. Don't get stuck on autopilot.  When you take on new challenges you must be prepared to stumble, but learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.  When you stumble, own it and learn from it.   Taking on unknown roles is a time of vulnerability but we all must learn to embrace new challenges and opportunities.  When you are able to conquer your self-doubt, personal growth and satisfaction will follow and you will become a better leader, mentor and follower. 

It takes a brave person to jump into the unknown, but pretty soon, you will have a new comfort zone.  You will look back at how frightened you were when you first started your new leadership role and see that you have become successful.  You will know you have succeeded as you look at those around you and the growth they are demonstrating because of the example you have set for them.  Once you begin to realize that you have succeeded, it will be easier to step outside of your comfort zone the next time opportunity knocks. 

I challenge you to be brave and step into the unknown, then build your way up and never stop building.