In his post, "The 50 New Rules of Work," author and leadership coach Robin Sharma ranks this one No. 1:
You are not just paid to work. You are paid to be uncomfortable-and to pursue projects that scare you.
Larry Bonfante, the CIO of the U.S. Tennis Association whose book "Lessons in IT Transformation" just came out, offers similar advice for IT pros who want to become executives. Network World quotes him, saying:
Put yourself in opportunities where you are forced to learn something. There's no way you can grow without being uncomfortable.
For IT pros, he says, that can mean developing people skills, which increasingly are considered the differentiator among executive job candidates, though there are myriad projects that can scare you just as much.
But it's interesting to pair that advice with the results of InformationWeek Analytics' 2011 IT Salary Survey. Writer Art Whitman notes among the findings that when asked to name the things most important to IT pros, challenge and responsibility have been declining for a decade. In 2001, 71 percent of survey respondents rated job challenge and responsibility as important, while in 2011, just 45 percent of managers and 39 percent of staff did. And staff members are less likely to be interested in new technology. He writes:
... whereas staffers used to have a mixed level of interest in personal rewards, their value to the company, and their ability to work with cool technology, they now see personal rewards as far more important, pushing new technology and innovation to a distant back seat.
He suggests that the rise of software-as-a-service and mobile devices mean the IT department has less clout, and with layoffs during the recession and falling home prices, IT pros have lots to worry about. But he also says that bad attitudes also could be putting the profession on a path toward perpetual downsizing and outsourcing.
As one editor said to me when I was going on about how we used to do things, "Yeah, things have changed, haven't they?"
Gartner's predictions about work suggest uncomfortable situations could become the norm, with more spontaneity, defined not just as reacting, but as proactive work to capture new opportunities; what it calls "work swarms," which includes teams of people who don't know each other well; and simulation and experimentation.
In other words, being comfortable could equate to stagnating in this fast-changing world.
Here's another of Sharma's 50 rules:
The antidote to deep change is daily learning. Investing in your professional and personal development is the smartest investment you can make. Period.