Step Beyond Your Comfort Zone

In recent research for our Look Before You Leap suite of resources, we discovered something simple but surprising nonetheless. We were trying to identify factors contributing to self-employment conversations (i.e., why do some career counsellors/coaches put self-employment on the table as a possibility for all clients to consider while others never bring the topic up at all?) We discovered that the single best predictor of a self-employment conversation between a counsellor/coach and a client was something we’re calling “self-employment coaching self-efficacy” (i.e., the counsellor/coach’s confidence that s/he had the knowledge and skills to discuss self-employment intelligently).

This made me wonder – what else are we reluctant to discuss because we don’t know enough about it? What resources are being withheld from our clients, employees, or students because we don’t know what we don’t know? According to the 4 stages of learning model, we all begin in “unconscious incompetence” – it takes feedback and exposure to new ways of thinking to move us through conscious incompetence (i.e., we recognize a gap), to conscious competence (i.e., we’re practicing something new, but it’s still a bit awkward), to unconscious competence, where we’ve seamlessly integrated the new knowledge, skills, or attitudes into our day-to-day way of being.

As career counsellors, coaches, managers, and other leaders working with diverse people and problems today, what other specific kinds of self-efficacy do you need to encourage you to branch out a bit in the types of support you can and do offer? Within our Career Management Professional (CMP) program, it sometimes feels like we’re “preaching to the choir” in our specialized courses. We have courses on International and Global Careers – and students have typically had some international experience themselves. Similarly, our course on the Immigrant Experience tends to draw people who, themselves, have immigrated. Women in the Workplace would rarely attract a male student. Outside of CMP, Look Before You Leap (our self-employment course) typically attracts people who have already been self-employed.

I’m definitely a fan of building on strengths. However, our research results highlighted the danger of not stretching our boundaries – we’re unlikely to even explore possibilities with others if we don’t feel knowledgeable enough to have a conversation.

What do you need to learn more about? Where can you start? Of course, we welcome you in our e-courses and workshops but also encourage you to set some personal learning goals and begin talking with others about how to fill them. To learn more about diverse cultures, consider attending special community events. To learn more about self-employment, check out the free resources on our Look Before You Leap site. To learn more about how to champion diversity in your workplace, explore the free resources through our Diversity at Work site. The only way to build specialized self-efficacy is to step out of your comfort zone . . . I encourage you to take the first step today.





Originally posted February 6, 2012



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