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Are You In Over Your Head? (Yes? Good.)

Recently, I spent several days surrounded by successful CEOs and other business leaders at the Building Champions Experience, an event designed to stretch a leader’s thinking and expand his or her capacity for growth. I found myself conversing with others who have tackled greater obstacles and achieved immensely more than I have—and it was overwhelming! These people seemed so much smarter, stronger, and wiser than me. I couldn’t help but feel I had suddenly jumped into the deep end of the pool to be with the “big kids”, not realizing exactly how deep it really was.

In other words, I was in over my head.

And it was a good thing!

Good leaders are always looking for opportunities to stretch and grow. It’s never a good feeling to be in over your head; it’s often uncomfortable and overwhelming—even paralyzing! But as we put ourselves into challenging situations, we expand our ability to tackle new and possibly unexpected challenges and learn to see from new perspectives. These new skills open up so many opportunities!

Here are two ways you can grow by getting in over your head:

1. Connect with others further down the journey than you are.

When we connect with those who have accomplished more than we have, we are much better able to envision our own path—and how to get there. I find that the most profitable activity in my personal development plan (and probably the most fun, too) is interviewing other leaders. There is tremendous value in listening to others’ journeys and perspectives and it can be both a humbling and encouraging experience!

2. Take on the challenging projects.

No one really wants to take on the tasks that are difficult, that turn up the pressure, that happen to have high stakes or tight deadlines. It’s appealing to pick the easy projects—the ones we know cater to our skill sets or are guaranteed successes. But choosing to take on the tricky tasks is an opportunity for growth that will stretch your capacity and your skill set (and likely please your boss!). So go ahead, get in over your head and figure it out!

How will you stretch yourself this week? Who will you connect with and learn from, or what new challenging task will you complete? How have you grown by being in over your head?