Our Most Important Learning Happens in the Tunnel of Change

09 Mar 2017

The prospect of making significant changes in life can be quite daunting for most of us. I found myself faced with this proposition during the summer of 2016 when I decided to leave my successful and lucrative career after 25 years with the same company.

It is distinctly and unabashedly human to naturally gravitate towards the predictability and comfort of routine life. Terminating such a cycle requires not only a dance with courage, but also a sustained commitment to pass through the dark tunnel of fear and uncertainty.

In the passing of my own tunnel that took me from a relatively insignificant figure of a large company into the hotseat of a CTO for a much smaller company, a profound realization was that most of my crucial learning opportunities actually happened during that transition.

Conventional wisdom tells us that learning comes from our sustained investment of time and energy in the pursuit of knowledge, which is unarguably true, but most of us are unaware that the transition of change itself is where most of our substantial learning occurs. Why? Because, it breaks the cycle of certainty, making us vulnerable and ultimately opening our minds to absorb new ideas.

While I have no regrets working for the same company after so many years, I now counsel friends and colleagues of all ages with a decidely fresh perspective. My suggestion is to break free and explore the world. Put yourself in a difficult and uncomfortable situation that forces you to grow in ways unimagined. Take a chance on new directions in both your life and career. But, in doing so, just know that the transition itself is where the pivotal learning happens.