Feel the fear and do it anyway – tips for breaking out of your comfort zone

Challenge. It’s often mentioned as one of your company cultural behaviours. Or see the following definition

One of the most effective ways to challenge yourself is to break out of your comfort zone.

What’s the comfort zone?

Everyone needs a safe spot. Most people will have that psychological panic room that provides mental safety, stability and relaxation. It’s our way of reducing risk, keeping anxiety low and making life easier. It’s our comfort zone.

It’s great to spend time in the comfort zone. But it’s even better to leave it. Here’s why and how you can achieve that goal.

 

How do you benefit?

  • Growth – I don’t think anyone wants to stand still. Certainly not at my org. Leaving your comfort zone is a proven way to evolve your capabilities in any area of your life.
  • Productivity & performance – An increased focus and variety of experiences leads to a sharpening of skills and discovering of new abilities. Often ones you never imagined you’d have.
  • Confidence – The more you break out of your comfort zone the more you’ll see confidence improve. I’ve seen people completely re-invent themselves just by taking on more challenges.
  • Satisfaction – And the satisfaction a new challenge nailed speaks for itself. You’ll begin to build up the circle of challenge feeding satisfaction, feeding more challenge.
  • Friends – Wanna see your network grow? Each new challenge will have a population of enthusiasts, newbies & experts alike, all willing to welcome you into their family. It’s the best way to meet new people.
  • Influence on others – This is one of my personal favourite benefits. Once you get into the habit of taking on new challenges, then you’ll be able to act as a mentor for others and help bring them along with you. It’s often more satisfying to help someone else achieve their goals.

 

There are many motivations or triggers for wanting to break out of your comfort zone. You might experience a life event such as childbirth or bereavement, or it may be part of a wider strategy to reinvent yourself. Or maybe you’ve had a Rubicon moment in your career where you just want change. The trigger could be anything. But that’s the starting point for great things to happen.

How do you escape the comfort zone?

  • Understand the boundaries – First you need to know where your comfort zone end are. Generally if the thought of doing something makes you nervous, then it’s likely to be outside your comfort zone.
  • Make a list – Note down all of the activities, thoughts, actions that scare you. Try to cover things that might be a small stretch, as well as the huge, seemingly impossible items. You might want to categorise the items, as there may well be different themes. I like to think of separate comfort zones relating to work, family, sport & mental health. You can even make it fun. I thought of creating a list of activities to break out of my food comfort zone. Sushi anyone? Ew!
  • Rank & rate – Now rank each item in terms of how much benefit you *think* it might give you and also rate in terms of how hard you think it will be to achieve. Obviously if you’ve got “Run a Marathon” on your list and you’ve never run before then you’ll have to break that down into manageable steps. It’s likely you’ll have a lot of items so ranking them is important.
  • Make it happen – Then it’s time to start doing some of these scary things. Start with the easy, manageable items that are just a little bit scary, then work up. You’ll get so used to taking on challenges that it will get progressively easier, although always scary. And for each achievement that feeling of satisfaction will grow.
  • Act as If – There was an interesting talk at my org recently from life coach Charlotta Hughes, author of this book. She spoke about “Acting as if” or “faking it till you make it”.  Have a look online, this is an approach that can make it easier to achieve the goals on your scary list.
  • Seek safety in numbers – as you work your way through your list of terror, try to associate with other like-minded people. Just like it’s easier to train for a marathon with a group, it’s easier to achieve your goals when surrounded by similar people. You’ll inspire each other.

 

But be aware of the demands of all this challenge. There’s a sweet spot between anxiety and performance. Don’t push it too much, and listen to your body and mind. And if it gets too much, don’t be scared to ease off and review.

And as you grow in confidence, ability and stature as a result of all this achieving do remember that everyone is different. Stay humble and non-judgmental. What might be easy to you may be super-hard to someone else.

This obviously isn’t a foolproof guide to success, everyone is different. But I’m confident that this approach would be beneficial to most people who want to kick-start an aspect of their life.

Do let me know what you think of this in the comments. Especially any personal examples of where you’ve left your comfort zone or top tips for achievement.

Regards, Paul

 

References

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/in-flux/201512/5-benefits-stepping-outside-your-comfort-zone

https://www.roystonguest.com/blog/7-reasons-why-stepping-outside-your-comfort-zone-is-a-must/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-benefits-from-stepping-outside-your-comfort-zone-joshua-miller/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-brain-and-emotional-intelligence/201203/the-sweet-spot-achievement

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-ways-step-out-your-comfort-zone-and-enjoy-taking-risks.html

http://mentalfloss.com/article/74310/8-fake-it-til-you-make-it-strategies-backed-science

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How To Set Up Your Tableau Server Environments

Hi,

Guess what this post is about – yes TABLE CALCULATIONS…. haha. No chance. Talk to Jonathan Drummey about those. This is of course yet more info that I hope will help you guys set up a dream Enterprise Tableau deployment.

Today we are gonna talk about Environments – i.e. what Tableau environments should you create in your organisation to give your team the best chance of success and keep your lovely users happy?

As always, I’m not saying this is THE way to do it. There are tons of great setups out there. I’ll just tell you what we have. Feel free to suggest better methods in the comments.

 

Environments for your users

This section is concerned with environments that you will provide for your Tableau users to do their work. Typically this will follow the standard Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) environment definitions, but there are a few things you can do to add extra options for your users.

These are the environments our users have at their disposal:

  • Production – The main business & user facing environment. Content published here is authoritative, follows best practice (hopefully) and is actively supported.
  • Testing – aka UAT. Generally used for final testing of uploaded content
  • Development – The environment where content is first shared as part of the development process.
  • Scratch – An extra environment for content that doesn’t need environment management. E.g. User wants to temporarily share content with a couple of colleagues.

Providing these environments gives users crucial options and flexibility. Your Tableau service will most likely serve many different business areas and teams, each with different practices for content development and release management. Some teams will rigorously follow Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC) processes, creating content in development, promoting to User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and then eventually to Production. Other teams are totally happy to change content directly in Production, as and when they feel like it.

Crucially we don’t mandate what our users do, it’s a self-service model and so long as they follow their own due-diligence and governance procedures then that’s cool with me. The important thing is that we give them options to work with Tableau in the way that they want. If they break anything then they know it’s down to them.

The scratch environment is an interesting concept. It started with good intentions but realistically not many people are using it. So it looks like we might bin that.

Note that we use Tableau sites to segregate our environments.

 

Environments for your team

This is different from the above user-facing environments. These are the environments that your team uses for the service you provide. Obviously all this costs money in terms of hardware procurement and usage, depending on the spec you choose.

  • Production – Main environment that serves your users. In our environment this also includes the UAT, Development & Scratch sites for users – but we class it all as production. That might seem odd, but remember that many teams will be development teams, and to them the development site / area is their equivalent of production. So if the development site is down then they can’t work.
  • Disaster Recovery (DR) – For use in the event of a Production outage that can’t be easily restored. Exact same spec as Production. Totally identical, so that config can be restored and this server can be used as Production. You’ll need to make sure this environment gets the same upgrades as your Production environment.
  • UAT – This is UAT for my team. If we want to make a change to Production, it gets final testing here. This environment is also the exact same spec as Production to ensure an accurate test. If it fails here then it’s likely to fail in Production as well. We use UAT for testing maintenance releases, config changes and other potentially disruptive non-Tableau related changes to the server. Additionally, we make this environment available to users for a couple of weeks UAT prior to releasing new versions to production.
  • Engineering – Lower spec than prod & UAT. For testing the latest available release from Tableau. That is likely to be a higher version than production. Is useful for spotting bugs in new versions or confirming that bug-fixes work.
  • Beta Test – We are proud to be part of Tableau’s pre-release testing audience. We use this server to test releases in the Beta programme. Lower spec than engineering. To the point that the server only just meets the minimum requirements.
  • Alpha Test – We use this to test the alpha releases or any extra work we may be doing with developers at Tableau. We love to be involved in the genesis of new functionality.

So that’s what we are lucky enough to have. It’s not perfect but it allows us to give our users a ton of flexibility in how they use Tableau, and also my own team always has a place to test new releases, plan upgrades and help Tableau with their pre-release programmes.

Interested to see what the community has in terms of environments. Let me know in the comments. Remember there are a load of other posts on this blog about Enterprise Tableau considerations.

Cheers, Paul