The Benefits of Saying “Yes” to Things That Scare You: Professional Edition

Although stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary, you shouldn’t let it get between you and your professional growth.
Sarah Si
Sarah Si
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There’s nothing wrong if you’re more comfortable saying “no” than “yes”. After all, trying out new things can be scary, and the fear of failing is constant. Add that to your need to do well as a professional, and you wouldn’t want to take on new professional opportunities.

Except, that can be a problem in your professional life. For instance, if you say “no” to a job you’re on the fence for, or perhaps a newly-created role, you won’t know what sort of learning opportunities and professional experiences you might have had if you had said “yes” instead.

That isn’t even the only reason. Here are some other benefits!

Disclaimer: Stepping out of your comfort zone or looking for a challenge doesn’t equate to agreeing to work on every professional opportunity that comes your way, especially those that are far beyond your expertise and experience!

An example of this would be a civil engineer asking you to join an architectural project, when you’re in human resource management.

You’ll become a better and more understanding person

As a newly-minted graduate, you’ve likely been told a number of times that you should take on opportunities as they come, from “You’ll learn something new” to “You never know until you try”, as well as the ever-perennial “You never know where you’ll end up – and that’s a good thing!”

But what they don’t cover is that, by experiencing something new that scares you, you also become a more empathetic person. You’ll understand the process of facing your fear and stepping into the unknown. And, in the future, when colleagues come to you for advice on opportunities that may frighten them, you’ll also be able to share advice. This empathy is what builds true value in your work and life, as you have a genuine interest in helping others you can relate with.

Tip: The things that scare you the most tend to be the most impactful ones, whether in terms of lessons learnt, or pride in a project well done and completed.

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You’ll have no regrets – and be happier for it

It’s horrible to look at the path not taken later and wonder “what if?”. And it’s doubly so when you look at your colleagues who took up the opportunity – and you realise that it really wasn’t too scary, after all.

Although having some forms of reservation can be good – you should rightfully fear shady-looking job opportunities – you shouldn’t let them hold you back from exploring new professional opportunities.

Tip: You’re never too old, or too late, to try something new!

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You won't be alone

Think about this simple truth: if you’re given the offer to work on something new at work, it means that a higher-up believes in you enough to give you the chance. Moreover, they won’t leave you to figure it out alone. You’ll have a support system, whether in the form of a team, or you’ll be overseen by a supervisor, a direct manager, or a more experienced teammate.

Tip: Supporting someone else, and getting support for something new you’re doing, also fosters a culture of collaboration, risk-tolerance, innovation, positive possibilities and partnership in your company!

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You'll learn nothing is as scary as you think it is

When looking from the outside in, everything can seem scary and overwhelming, from meeting new clients to collaborating with colleagues you’ve never worked with before.

But if you take a moment to look around you when you’re involved and immersed in a new project proper, you’ll quickly realise that whatever you’re doing isn’t as hard as you initially thought it would be. In fact, you’ll likely have gotten into the groove of things, as well as enjoying the challenge by then. Even better, you would also be building resilience!

Tip: You never know – you might walk out of meetings and collaborations with new contacts for your network, or even a new work friend!

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You'll figure out that failing is okay

Although it’s not particularly pleasant, failure is a part of life. In fact, a 2019 study lead by the University of Arizona found that a degree of failure is needed in order to learn something! Moreover, as you’ll be tackling something completely new and unknown to you, your higher-ups will likely also give you a safe space to fail.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

  • Sir Winston Churchill. In WWI, he was held personally responsible for the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign in WWI (failure), but the experience he gained in WWI informed his decisive actions in WWII (success). He’s now known as a victorious wartime leader.

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There’s plenty of other benefits other than the ones listed here, like finding and extending your limits, as well as learning to say “no” when you know you don’t have the time and energy for more responsibilities. But the best benefit you’ll definitely get is that you’ll become a better, more well-rounded person, for saying “yes”!