Outside my comfort zone


Tomorrow 5th of July marks exactly a year since I accepted a work assignment that saw my family and I leaving our country of birth Zimbabwe and settling in Nairobi Kenya. Initially I thought this would be easy. I told myself I was still with the same organization, I was still in Africa, English was still the official language and we even drive on the same side of the road…so nothing could be difficult about this move so I thought.

I look back and I have to admit how wrong I was. There were a lot of things that I took for granted. Our whole social support structure was always with us back home. When I travelled outside Zimbabwe on business trips, my mother or my sisters would look after our young children. If we needed “us” time with my husband, we would call my nieces or nephews to come look after the children. Our friends were around us and everything was familiar. We were in our comfort zone.

It did not take me long to realize we had “uprooted” ourselves from the familiar. Yes we were still in Africa, yes there was no language barrier and I was still with the same organization but our usual support structure was no longer easily accessible and this took a while to get used to.

A comfort zone is defined as a psychological state where one is at ease, there is familiarity and sense of control of one’s environment. Over the past 12 months, we have learnt to adapt to our new environment as a family. Everything I thought I knew about balancing my roles as a working mother has been challenged and I have had to come up with creative solutions to manage. Allowing yourself to get outside of your comfort zone allows you to grow, requires you to take risks and hopefully reap the benefits. As we are in the second half of the year, challenge yourself, stretch yourself and your faith. Get out of your comfort zone.


…of achievements and connections

We had a brief discussion with collegues a few days ago. The question that was asked was how do people in your organisation get promoted? Is it based on achievements or on connections?

 Anyone keen on progressing their career needs to have an answer to this question. Have an honest analysis of the various people that have been promoted in your organisation. Was is because they were high achievers or because they were well connected? What is important to understand is that this differs from one organisation to the next.

Lets break this down and define achievements as well as connections. 

Achievements are the objectives that you have met, the goals that you have delivered against, the victories that the company has enjoyed because of you. It is important that these achievements are easily attributed to you, either as the leader or ordinary employee, as an individual or as part of a team.

My definition of connections will be more broad. I would like to talk about the ‘godfather’. This person is not the same as a mentor. A mentor is someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced person. A mentor does not necessarily have to work for the same company as you. A ‘godfather’ on the other hand, might not necessarily share any knowledge with you. They will do that sometimes because you work in the same organisation. This person is  likely to be more senior  in the organisation. He/she will mention your name to the right people and speak of your achievements on your behalf in order to help you get ahead.

Now that we have defined achievements and connections, we need to ask the question again, does your organisation promote based on  your achievements or connections?

I encourage you to think seriously about this question if you would like to get ahead in your career. Can your achievements take you on the next step of your career, or you will need a ‘godfather’ to speak on your behalf? Whatever answer you come up with, work on having the best possible ammunition your need…but do not sell your soul to the devil.

I am keen to hear your feedback so please leave a comment and let us have a discussion

Speak Out

I have seen many well qualified women being passed for promotions they deserved. The main reason being they are waiting for someone usually their boss to offer them the position. It is very important for women especially to manage their career development actively not passively. Speaking out and expressing our career goals is very important. Waiting to be noticed rarely works.

A few years ago a senior position arose in the organization I worked for. I was by far the most qualified of all the in-house candidates. Infact my boss had already started asking me yo assist with some of the roles of the new position. In my mind this was definitely my position so. I waited for my appointment letter. Three months down they line nothing had happened

One day during a meeting, the boss announced that he was looking to fill the position and had already started looking at CVs. Later on a male colleague who had just joined the company told me he would also apply for that job. That day I got home and did some serious thinking. I needed to take charge of my own career and actively drive it to where I wanted. Speaking out and expressing one ‘s desires might not come naturally for some. I have found practicing my lines before approaching my boss does really help. I try and think of the possible responses I could get from him and also my own answers. It is also important to ensure one’s achievements are showcased so that when you do speak out about your career goals, you have the evidence to back you up.Remember we are on a journey to the top. So speak out.