What personal challenges did you overcome through work?

When I was a teenager, I used to be terrified of making phone calls. I would have to prepare every word that I was going to say before hand and was anxious way ahead of time. Heart racing, hot flashes, … the whole shabang.

During an internship at a consulting firm, we were organizing a user clinic for a big German telecommunications company. I was charged with recruiting 350 in-person participants via a mixture of emails and phone calls. For better or worse, I was super anxious of picking up the phone but not ready to admit that weakness in front of my colleagues.

After I had pressed send and contacted everyone in our panel with an email address, I was trying to brace myself to make the first call. While I was still trying to overcome my anxiety, my work phone rang. On the other end was one of the many panelists that I had just contacted with some follow-up questions. The gentleman was polite, pleasent and matter-of-fact. Our conversation lasted no more than 5 minutes.

That first call caught me out of the blue, but made a large chunk of my fears evaporate. And with every call I made, I got calmer, more confident and more trusting. And just like that, work forced me out of my comfort zone, made me uncomfortable and helped me realize that there was no base for my anxiety. And picking up a phone has not been a issue for me since, I actually prefer it in a lot of situations of a clunky back and forth in writing.

Growth is not comfortable, but it’s worth it, big and small. So close your eyes, take that plunge and maybe surprise yourself. You might learn how to swim.

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