3 experiences outside my comfort zone.

 In Communication, Happiness, Insights, Positivity, Presenting, Realizer Blog

In the space of 13 days in June, I lined up three public speaking events which pushed me outside my comfort zone. And I learned a huge amount on the journey – about fire fighters, team work, scrums and software development, project management, journalism…and Married at First Sight.

June 4, the Mumbrella360 panel, “The Big Questions”
I was lucky enough to host a session at marketing conference Mumbrella360. In partnership with the Newspaper Works we invited 4 fascinating people onto a panel called “The Big Questions” with the byline, “we spend too much time trying to find answers and not enough time working out what the question is”.

Featuring Walkley Award winning journalist Nick McKenzie, neuro-psychotherapist and adviser on Married at First Sight, Dr Trisha Stratford, Mindshare CEO Katie Rigg-Smith and Newspaper Works CEO Mark Hollands.

We discussed how instead of rushing to find solutions, we should

  • think like a toddler – keep asking why
  • ask questions which have an emotional component to keep people’s brains engaged
  • act like a coach and guide people’s thinking with your questions

For more tips and a report on the panel, click here.


June 17, Agile Australia conference, presenting Dumb Ways to Decide
I’ve never been a project manager. And, until recently, I had never worked with software developers. But I stepped up to the challenge of presenting at the Agile Australia conference. To my surprise, I don’t think I’ll ever look at project management or teamwork the same again. These people are light years ahead of the other industries on getting stuff done using sprints and scrums.

Plus their teamwork and decision-making is incredibly impressive with their scrum masters, planning poker and pair programming. So, whilst I was able to share some of my ideas and research on decision-making, I was the one who learnt the most on the journey. So thanks to all the people I talked to and those who attended my talk. My book of the month is Jeff Sutherland’s scrum which I reckon everyone should read.

June 21, Mudgee, at the Rural Fire Service Association conference
The RFSA invited me to speak at their biannual conference – my topic was The Psychology of Teams. I found myself in a wine region, presenting to 500 fire fighters at 930am Sunday morning after their gala dinner. It was challenging.

The question: how could I advise fire fighters on teamwork? The more I dug into this one, did my research and chatted to fire fighters, the more I realised that they have amazing, life-saving teamwork most of the time. When they attend a fire, it’s clear whose in charge. There are 4 of them. 1 is in command. 1 stays with the truck and the homeowner, and makes sure the water supply is working. And 2 fight the fire. You can read more about research into their decision-making here.

From a teamwork perspective, what resonated with this audience was the challenges they have back at the station, not the teamwork they need to do to fight fires. As the commissioner commented at the end of the session, “it’s like running a 100m race. We all focus on the 10 seconds of the race, but we forget what happens in all the training and preparation which is actually more important.”

What did I learn as a result of these 3 experiences?
There is a lot pleasure to be had in setting yourself a challenge and a lot to be learnt on the journey.

The human mind is incredibly capable and can achieve more than you expect.

Don’t sit in your comfort zone, challenge yourself.

Written by Rob Pyne