The easiest way to stop being “not ready” is to simply be ready. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

You’re probably never going to be 100% ready.

There will always be a little bit of fear, some feelings of doubt, maybe discomfort… but that should never stop you from jumping at a great opportunity.

Because, whether you feel like you’re ready or not, each opportunity that arises is simply another chance for you to grow.

Stretching Your Developmental Edge

We all have four levels of experience and skills:

  1. Mastery: no doubt about it, you can successfully take on these tasks
  2. Comfort Zone: skills that you are pretty confident in
  3. Necessary Stretch: you’ve got a little experience and can probably figure things out when the situation calls for it.
  4. Developmental Edge: uncharted territory… where the magic happens

As mission-driven leaders, we are known for not giving ourselves enough credit…

We prefer to stay in our Comfort Zone and occasionally venture into our Necessary Stretch, but we don’t hang out on the developmental edge because we feel like we aren’t ready or we don’t have enough experience. We want to do things really well, but at the developmental edge, we don’t already know how to do it. We don’t have confidence. Failure happens there. It’s stressful. There are real risks and reasonable fears.

But how do you get ready? How do you get enough experience to be successful?

The simple answer is: You just do it.

You venture out past where you feel comfortable to that edge where growth will happen. This is how you fast-track your readiness for the next steps. Seize the opportunity to learn like mad. A strategy many clients use is to obsess about what they are learning for a bit, and then move back to the comfort zone to recharge. Then they are ready for another growth-requiring adventure. This is how we get to feel ready for more and more different types of situations. This is where confidence based in competence comes from. Self-directed growth and development puts you in charge of where you go next.

By pulling on your Developmental Edge, you are growing the playing field of your experience, learning more and more with each step you take.

Dive In, Head First

Do you know the really wonderful thing about expanding out your Developmental Edge? There is motivation to succeed that comes from fear and doubt.

Getting out of your Comfort Zone pushes you to use your resourcefulness and courage to figure out whatever it is you need to know.

Your perceived lack of experience gives you the drive to do your best, and show everyone that, even though you may not feel ready, you are 100% capable of doing a topnotch job.

I learned this lesson early in my career when I came across the opportunity to interview one of my professional idols at an upcoming conference. Although I was bursting with excitement and fear that I wasn’t ready, I committed to doing the interview and there was no backing out.

Using my fear, doubt, and nerves as fuel and motivation, I was able to learn and grow the capabilities I needed. I researched her previous interviews. I asked someone with tons of experience for help.

I put so much effort into making this a great experience for everyone involved…

I made myself ready.

And when the time came for the interview, I finally felt ready.

So, my message to you is this: Don’t wait until you are ready.

Find a specific challenge or opportunity that excites and scares you. Rise to meet it by making yourself ready through deep learning, practicing, and getting support wherever you can.

The more you stretch into your Development Edge, the bigger your Comfort Zone becomes… and with that comes more skills, knowledge, and experience to grow yourself into who you want to become.

No one will do this for you. It’s time for you to harness the power of not being ready, and use it to accelerate your growth.

Want to accelerate your growth? I’d like to help. Check out my services page for more info.

Jessica Hartung

Jessica Hartung is a partner, coach, and guide for those leveling-up their personal professional leadership, their teams, and their communities to a better future.

Jessica has a passion for inspiring and preparing people to grow from their work to improve their lives. In 1998, she founded Integrated Work, a consulting firm that brings top-notch professional development to mission-driven leaders, while being a learning laboratory for innovative work practices.

Jessica provides self-directed professional development tools to leaders at all levels striving to create positive impact.

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