As a coach of managers and staff at the frontline, the greatest barrier to improvement that I see is fear. Fear is one of the greatest inhibitors to growth and improvement. Fear of not knowing what to do, fear of never having done it before; fear of feeling awkward when you’re asked to step out of your comfort zone and try some new things. In my customer service training programs and subsequent coaching on-the-job, this is the one thing that inhibits a change in behaviour more than any other.

Fear keeps people stuck, and unwilling to try something a little bit different, a little bit beyond what they think they’re capable of. The trouble is, if you want to get better at something, stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way.

If you really want to be successful, you have to come to terms with this and learn to become comfortable with those awkward moments where you’re trying something new, because that’s where the magic happens. It’s in those moments where you try something different and you’re a little bit anxious, a little bit scared but you give it a go, where true growth and change really comes from.

If you’re in that situation right now where you’re feeling the pressure to perform and you’ve sort of been resisting it, I encourage you to take the plunge into the unknown. For that is where you can achieve some incredible outcomes.

Crucially, this where the support of a coach is invaluable. What a good coach should do is create an environment where it’s okay to be uncomfortable, where staff are supported in pushing boundaries, trying new things, making mistakes. A great coach helps you to embrace the awkwardness as a normal, natural component of a continuous improvement process.

So learning to become COMFORTABLY AWKWARD is a critical step to transition to a new stage of competency and improvement. Once you’ve done this a few times, it’s incredible how comfortable, discomfort becomes. Weird, but true. No pain, no gain as they say.