Embrace discomfort and strive for excellence, not perfection explains Anel Martin

As a coach and trainer, I often meet people that feel stuck, like they are living below their full potential. They say it feels a bit like the movie “Groundhog Day” where the same day is repeated every week, every month, and this has now become their life.

So how can you escape your comfort zone and start to live a more fully?

1. Try a new food or undertake an activity – even a small one – that you have never done before

Isn’t It funny how when we were young everything excited us; we had no fear of the “new”. By trying novel things we are literally creating new and different neural pathways. You may not like the dish that you tried, you may be terrible at knitting, but your world stretched a little. You are actively exploring. And who knows? You may discover something that you really enjoy or excel at and at the very least you won’t be bored. This is easy to do regularly.

2. Take a different route or mode of transport to work or simply change your routine

By breaking the daily ritual a little we can also reduce the monotony of our week. Wake up a bit earlier to read a book or exercise (if you don’t normally). Have friends over in the middle of the week; brush your teeth with the other hand. The routine is what really gets us down and for most of us our routines – and more importantly our habits – are on auto-pilot and they don’t serve us! Think about what you are doing (and why) and start to question these routines and habits.

3. Meet (or smile at) one new person a day

Meeting new people is scary, we all feel shy; but I promise that it has the potential to open up a whole new world to you. Make sure that you connect with the executive assistant groups on Facebook and LinkedIn as this is also a great way to connect with peers on a global scale and to enlarge and grow your network. Be generous, be kind and connect authentically.

4. Learn something new every week (at least)

Read more! Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. I am sure that your executive/s are constantly reading and working on their skills. It matters! Find “how to” or developmental blogs and articles online. Google your problems or type into YouTube what you want to learn, and see how many resources are right there at your fingertips. I also want to encourage you to ask for the training you need. Current predictions suggest that in five years time, only 15% of what you know right now will be relevant. Learning and growing is therefore a survival strategy and not a “nice to have”.

5. Volunteer

Often we are confronted with an offer or an opportunity but we don’t step up because we are afraid, we don’t feel that we are good enough or we are simply too lazy. I know that amazing things happen when you volunteer, offer to help, join the team or simply lend a hand. I love the fact that Richard Branson says “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later”. As assistants we are faced with new and interesting challenges every day which require us to solve problems and create things, so why is it so hard to volunteer or step up? Confidence is the real issue not talent.

6. Discomfort is not only good, it is excellent

One of the stages of learning is feeling challenged and uncomfortable – so embrace it. Being able to extend yourself, feeling unsure and being able to make mistakes is what will ultimately help you level up. As assistants we are perfectionists, but I want to challenge all of us to strive for excellence (perfection does not exist). In the future world of work those who innovate and find new ways will remain relevant. You simply cannot do this if you are not making mistakes along the way. So embrace it!

Anel Martin is a multi-award winning ex-Personal Assistant who now works as a full-time trainer. She has extensive experience in the profession and is widely considered an industry expert. Anel is also one of the Directors of the Isipho Admin Bursary (www ... (Read More)

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