Get out of your comfort zone!

We are currently living in a network and knowledge-based society. What this means is that we depend on our relationships in order to develop both professional and individual growth.  The problem that arises is most people don’t like to share their knowledge with people they don’t know or don’t like.

Research has suggested that we favour helping those we know and that we like, as opposed to helping people who actually really need help. Throughout the last decade, Soulaima Gourani has spoken to and observed leaders, employees, researchers about this and found that today’s workforce are subject to three rules.

1.The 12 Meter Rule – When we are looking for information or inspiration at work, we favour networking with colleagues are within a 12-meter radius of our workspace, meaning we prefer to ask the colleagues who are physically closest to us.

2.The 7 People Rule – When we need advice, we tend to go to the same seven people in our network. The downside to this is that usually those seven people all know each other or are people we have a lot in common with. A result of this is that we end up reproducing the same and outdated knowledge.

3.The 4 Factor Role – Our instincts and brains encourage us to seek out people with whom we have 4 things in common with, for example age, gender, nationality etc. These are people who remind us of ourselves. We have a tendency to look for information from people who we like, who remind us of ourselves and who are physically close to use. Consequently, we very rarely learn something new.

Our knowledge-based comfort zone is our enemy! Our brains are set up to help us survive, it does this by avoiding taking us into unfamiliar situations and by not putting us in the company of people who are different from us. This can be disastrous both now and in the future, particularly when we are going through major changes in relation to the way we work, where we work and who we work with. Our biggest challenge is that we are controlled by our brain that does not want us to actively seek out unfamiliar situations, changes or people who could challenge us. In the future, the most valuable employees won’t necessarily be the ones with the highest IQ, but the one who can work with others and has a higher EQ which is emotional intelligence.

Make connections- All the intelligence in the universe won’t be any good if you cannot communicate effectively and are no good being around other people. Usually there are about five different factors that will affect whether or not you achieve your goals via your network:

  • Your principles
  • If people like spending time with you
  • If you take responsibility
  • If you have skills other people need
  • If you can make your mark so that people will remember you

It is important that you are someone people enjoy spending time with. It is also important that you are approachable, available and friendly. The Academy of Management Journal tells us that your mood has a direct effect on whether or not people want to spend time with you. People need to feel as though they can approach you. Over the course of your life you will network with many different types of people and so it is important that you become proficient at reading people. You have to be able to:

  • Tolerate other people and generally have good social skills
  • Accept other people
  • Accept change
  • Understand the world around you and your community

It is incredibly important that you learn how to converse. A god conversation establishes a good connection between people. While it may sound simple, many people actually struggle with first of all starting a conversation, then maintaining and engaging people whilst conversing. Even if you think you are a good conversationalist, you should still try to work on improving your ability to have a conversation with different ‘types’ of people. You should take responsibility for developing your relationship, making sure that over time you move from being a formal professional contact to an informal personal contact. The only way you can really get new information and inspiration is through building relationship with people who are different than you.

Your career prospects largely depend on how flexible your comfort zone is and whether or not you are open to working through unfamiliar situations with people different to yourself. Sometimes having someone outside of your work or personal life can help you overcome some of the roadblocks you encounter. For more information on our coaching services click here or email


Caprino, K. (2014) The Most Common (And Harmful) Ways People Sabotage Their Own Success [Online]

Boyes, A. (2018) 5 Ways Smart People Sabotage Their Success [Online]

For more information on our leadership/team coaching service click here to visit our website or email