Challenging My Comfort Zone

March 4, 2014


One of my New Year resolutions is to be more vulnerable. I was inspired by a TED Talkgiven by Brene Brown on the power of being honest and open, giving others the opportunity to find themselves in my stories of struggle and build a deep connection. This concept: power in vulnerability is the driver behind our newly launched Speak Geek Series. We’re featuring women in Calgary, giving them a platform to be community role-models and an opportunity to share their stories of struggle, authentically. Challenging Your Comfort Zone is the theme of our very first Speak Geek event. I’m especially excited for this one because it’s a topic close to my heart and in the spirit of vulnerability, I’d like to share one of the ways I’m challenging my comfort zone.


I have this nice safety bubble that I live my life from. Like a hamster in a ball, I can go lots of different places, but ultimately, I’m trapped in the bubble. I set goals that are within my comfort zone and I never reach outside of it. I’m afraid to set big goals for the Chic Geek (like becoming a national organization) because I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve that. I’m afraid to write my GMAT because what if I can’t get into a top school like Stanford or Berkeley or MIT? So I haven’t written the GMAT at all.


If I’m honest with myself, I don’t set big goals that truly challenge me. I set small, safe ones that are a guaranteed win.


"You see, I have this paralyzing fear of failure."


I do everything I can to avoid it. I’ve actually structured my life, my habits, my personality around avoiding it. Hiding from failure has become as much a part of who I am as my neat-freak tendencies and penchant for checklists.


But this means I’m not being my best self. I’m being a safe version of myself. And that’s not the person I want to be.


"I’m learning that if the goal I set doesn’t make me uncomfortable, it’s not big enough."


I am a passionate startup community builder and I love the idea of an entrepreneurial spirit. But hand-in-hand with startups and entrepreneurship is risk.


And fear.


And uncertainty.


And those are things I need to learn to get comfortable with.


One of the ways for me to get past my fear of failure is to forget about the outcome. Sometimes the goals we set aren’t the most important goals for us to achieve. For example, when we run the Ladies Learning Code workshops, I get really stressed out about selling out the event. If we don’t get 30 out, it means we didn’t promote hard enough, we didn’t communicate clearly, and most importantly we weren’t successful.

But I need to step back and remind myself that Ladies Learning Code isn’t a numbers game. It’s about helping women learn basic coding skills, to feel more comfortable in this environment and confident enough to explore on their own. Regardless of whether it’s 30 people at a workshop or 15, our focus should be to build an amazing experience. So my goal for Ladies Learning Code isn’t to have sold-out workshops. It’s to have women keep coming back to learn, see learners become mentors, and mentors become instructors. That’s a big AND meaningful goal.

There’s a time and place for BIG, scary goals. You can’t live by them all the time, just like you can’t live by small, safe goals all the time. This isn’t an all-or-nothing game. It’s a balance – just like everything else in life.


"One of my big goals this year was to be more vulnerable." 


More honest.


More authentic.


And that’s a scary thing, but I’m doing that by sharing something I struggle with. I hope it’s given you something to think about in the types of goals you set for yourself. I hope I’ve challenged to set bigger ones, braver ones, and better ones. I would love to hear your stories of vulnerability, goal setting, and honesty, so leave a comment below or tweet me @kylietoh and use the hashtag #SpeakGeek 


And be sure to come out to our first Speak Geek event on Wednesday, February 19th. The theme for the evening is Challenging Your Comfort Zone and everyone will have a chance to share these types of stories.


Lots of love <3

Written by Kylie Toh


Kylie Started the Chic Geek because she wanted to see more women celebrate technology and discover their inner nerd. With a background in public relations and branding, and a passion for startups, Kylie guides the strategic vision of the Chic Geek. Connect with Kylie on Twitter

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