John: So Molly &Trish are still on the move and should be returning soon. Jen and I haven’t stopped though. We miss them but continue to put ourselves out there, especially with our connections here on LinkedIn. One of those we connected with is Ashley Heath, who is building her network here and contributing with us this week.
“When was the last time you put yourself out there?”
This got the three of us talking: When was the last time you put yourself out there? Like, I mean really, really put yourself out there? I attended a quality conference this week here in North Carolina. Among the myriad of great presentations, there was a chance to network. Usually, I reach out to others at these events, like some sort of glad-hander collecting business cards and introducing myself. This time, I did something different. I just hung back, chilled and let people come to me. It was very counter-intuitive, but it was the right move. It felt more like me. I felt if I could make one or two really good connections, then I had a productive networking experience. I put myself out there by stepping outside my comfort zone, staying quiet, but intentionally pushing my limits and that means I am growing closer to who I want to be. Letting others talk first is very scary. It is new, unchartered unfamiliar territory for me. But that is what forces me to grow, and when I did have interactions, , I was vulnerable, opened up and let others get to know me. I felt scared. And magnificent.
Ashley & Jen: When was the last time you put your full self out there? Any repercussions?
Ashley: I am not like John at all. I want others to talk first. I’m a person who stays fairly quiet in professional and networking settings. I don’t put myself out there, and even thinking about stepping outside of my comfort zone gives me anxiety. I have been on a job search for three years now, so I’ve had to put myself out there more in these past three years than ever. I’ve applied for roughly 70 jobs and have interviewed nine times, creating PowerPoints, scope of work plans, giving presentations, and I have yet to land a new role. Anyone who has gone through a similar experience knows how disheartening it is to work hard, be yourself, and truly put yourself out there to a world of strangers in hopes that they will accept you, just to be denied in the end. Still, I don’t give up, and I continue to put myself out there. I recently connected with John on LinkedIn and he encouraged me to try something new: put myself out there via LinkedIn to build my network. Since this was something I hadn’t tried before, I thought, “what the heck?” and went for it, full throttle. I began writing to people who are in roles I’m applying for or aspire to be in, I reached out to recruiters, I messaged alumni from my alma mater, and what did I get? Silence. I didn’t get a single reply. Even though it feels like I’m putting myself out there time after time and failing, I have learned a lot through this process. First and foremost, I’ve learned how to put myself out there and I have proven to myself that I can do it, even if it is frightening at first. I’ve discovered that there are several ways a person can put themselves out there, and I have accepted the fact that it isn’t always going to work out in the end. Most importantly, I’ve become more resilient, I’m no longer afraid to put myself out there, and I know that since I am learning from this experience, I haven’t failed at all.
Jen: I feel like I ‘throw myself out there’ in some way almost every day. I usually say I am ‘winging it’ and realize now that’s pretty much what I am doing. Thinking about a recent time I did this that was significant I keep coming back to writing. I have always wanted to write more, and it took meeting John for me to put myself out there more than ever before. I remember our first piece a few months ago, I sent him back what I thought was a draft and he published it right away! I cringed typo anyone?!?
Over time, it has gotten easier and easier and while typos still bother me, I have accepted them for sake of forward progress. This is out of my comfort zone, but it has allowed me to lower my stress and worry associated with writing. More recently, I took an even bigger leap and published my own piece. It was totally on a whim and emotionally driven from the experience. I hit ‘publish’ and snapped my computer shut before I had a chance to renege. It felt amazing! I am grateful for the experience and joy this has brought to my life. Everyone should find at least one thing today that they can do to move out of their comfort zone. Worst case, you will learn something new, even if it’s learning what won’t work for you. More times than not, I think you will find a greater freedom and renewed sense of purpose.