Uncomfortable lessons

What I learned from challenging myself at work and home

Scrumpy Dad
4 min readMar 24, 2024
Photo by Daniel Jiménez on Unsplash

I have always been a big fan of learning and improving myself. It’s all nice and pleasant in the comfort zone, but learning occurs elsewhere. We must face our fears and step outside our comfort zone to learn and grow. I’m practicing that a lot in my life.

Work as a comfort zone

If you look at my LinkedIn profile, you can tell I’m experienced in changing jobs. The first time I deliberately changed jobs to challenge myself was at Compuware. First, I was a developer for five years and then moved into a management position. After another five years, I started recognizing specific organizational patterns, and recurring activities became a dull routine. And so I started looking around for a new challenge.

After a few months, I found my next job at a telecommunications company. Before, I was used to shipping a new software product every 6–12 months, but here, we were deploying to production every month. The business was constantly pushing for more, and incidents in production could cost the company serious money. Instead of a stable workforce of permanent staff, my department was partially staffed with contractors from various suppliers. The dynamics and culture were so different between these two companies.

I learned a lot and developed new leadership styles to survive in my role. That caused stress at times, but I knew I was progressing. Looking back, it was one of the best learning opportunities to grow professionally, and I cherish many good memories. Even today, this experience is a rich source of real-life examples I use in training and workshops.

After that experience, I continued changing jobs every 2–3 years. Because I deliberately chose different types of organizations, each new job offered new learning opportunities. Eventually, I decided to join a consultancy firm to allow myself to change my working environment without the hassle of changing employers. That was a smart move.

DIY as a comfort zone

With every DIY project, I look for opportunities to learn something about a new skill, tool, or material. The bigger projects provide better opportunities. And it’s always a solid excuse to buy a new tool.

In our current house, I refurbished the bathroom entirely. I took on the challenge of breaking up the concrete floor with a jackhammer to reconstruct the plumbing. Unfortunately, I managed to drill a hole through the toilet’s ceiling below—not the kind of breakthrough I had hoped for. Luckily, I was able to fix it myself. However, I wasn’t capable enough to connect the shower drain, so I had to hire a professional plumber to finish the job.

For our new kitchen on the ground floor, I wanted to learn how to install a suspended ceiling, electricity wiring, and water supplies. What I hadn’t planned to learn was how to react when you hit a water pipe with a concrete cutter or what to do when you drill a hole in the ceiling and hit a gas pipe. So, I learned more than I planned, and we have a fantastic kitchen after all.

Lessons from leaving the comfort zone

Here are my key takeaways from stepping out of the comfort zone into the learning zone:

  • There is nothing wrong with enjoying the routine of your comfort zone. As long as you are aware that you have to step outside to learn, change, and grow.
  • Embrace the uncomfortable feeling. It means you’ve touched upon something outside your comfort zone and are one step away from a learning opportunity. Acknowledge the fear and do it anyway.
  • Be okay with the fact that you will make mistakes when you are learning. Don’t give up, don’t judge yourself. Just continue and adopt the lesson. This is all about gaining experience.
  • Acknowledge when you’re stuck and get help from an expert.
  • You fully understand how it should be done only after completing the job. That’s okay. You’ll be able to benefit next time.

You and your comfort zone

How about you? What do you do to expand your comfort zone? Do you find it easy to go out and learn new stuff in all areas of your life? I am excited to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

Take care and till next time!

Kind regards,

Herman / Scrumpy Dad

I help people find their purpose and stay loyal to their goals and values so they can create more happiness in their lives.

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Scrumpy Dad

Scrum Master & Agile Coach, passionate about personal development, applying work practices at home to build a happy family life. linkedin.com/in/hjameeuwsen