McKella Kinch
January 24, 2024

Leaning In: Working With the Edge of Your Comfort Zone

Leaning In: Working With the Edge of Your Comfort Zone

You may have heard the term “lean in” in self-help and personal development circles, and we use it a lot here at Redmond too. Like, a lot.

This is one of those terms that means something slightly different in each book and for each person.

At Redmond, our basic definition of “leaning in” is the willingness to get uncomfortable in order to learn, grow, and have a positive impact on the people you associate with.

Because often, growth is uncomfortable. We might run into concepts or interactions that challenge us and push our buttons. We may want to shut down and back off sometimes. But that’s not how we grow.

Remember, growth lies at the edge of your comfort zone. Growth requires leaning into that discomfort instead of shying away from it.

So how do you actually do this?

What Does Leaning In Look Like?

Leaning in looks different for every single person. (Helpful, right?)

So your first mission is to figure out what leaning in looks like for YOU. 

A good way to tell if you’re leaning in is to ask if you’re stretching outside your comfort zone.

It means actively engaging in your personal growth and purpose, whatever that means for you. (Don’t worry, we’re not encouraging discomfort for discomfort’s sake. That’s just silly.)

For example, talking a lot during meetings or discussions at work or home doesn’t mean that person is more engaged or leaning in better than the person who sits quietly, observing and absorbing. In that case, the quiet person may actually be MORE engaged.

Leaning in isn’t necessarily obvious. It’s more of an internal journey.

Your leaning in might look like the exact opposite of someone else’s leaning in.

Leaning in might look like…

  • Not numbing uncomfortable feelings. (But actually FEELING them. Yikes!)
  • Trying out new concepts in your day-to-day life, even in small ways.
  • Speaking up when you have something to say. Or…
  • Staying quiet when you’re about to steamroll someone/lash out/dominate the conversation.
  • Trying something new.
  • Taking the time to reflect, even if that isn’t your natural inclination.
  • Resting, even if you’re the go-go-go type.
  • Seeking out differing perspectives and trying to understand before being understood.
  • Having uncomfortable, but necessary conversations.
  • Understanding and developing your strengths, interests, and where you can contribute.
  • Talking to people even if you’re shy.
  • Practicing gratitude.
  • Doing those things you know would help you grow and feel better in the long run, but that might be challenging for you now.

Some of these things might not be hard for you at all, and some might sound more uncomfortable. And some might make your skin crawl.

Leaning in is doing the uncomfortable things that will help you grow and become the best possible version of yourself.

What Leaning in is NOT

Leaning in isn’t trying to be someone or something you just aren’t. It’s also not discomfort for the sake of discomfort.

It doesn’t mean becoming a social butterfly if you’re more of an introvert or trying to be good at something that you’re naturally pretty cruddy at. It’s not doing tasks you hate because you think you “should” when there’s someone else who enjoys those tasks, has the space for it, and can do a much better job.

Sure, leaning in can lead to dramatic transformation, but only when it comes from the heart and plays to our natural strengths (as opposed to “shoulds” or external pressure).

Ultimately, it’s about improving yourself, rather than trying to prove yourself. It’s being vulnerable, honest, and intentional. It’s doing the hard work of engaging with your growth, and not just working hard when you’re on the clock.

If we can give you one tip for success in life, it’s this: lean in, and you will grow and contribute in a way only you can!

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