When Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson began their historic ascent of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall, they took a leap of faith that their rock climbing skills would help them achieve the impossible. Last week, their efforts paid off when they became the first two men to free-climb this 3,000-foot monolith.
In recent interviews I conducted with Fortune 500 executives, I learned that taking a leap of faith is as important to career development as it is to achieving new heights in an extreme sport such as rock climbing. In fact, this was the advice most noted by executives when asked what people can do to keep their career fresh and rewarding.
For a business leader, having the confidence to try something new can help shape a diverse career path filled with unexpected opportunities. Just look at Ursula Burns, chairwoman and CEO at Xerox. She was working in various product development and planning jobs in the 1990s when she was tapped to be executive assistant to the company’s CEO. Accepting that position paved the way for more senior level jobs, which gave Burns the experience she ultimately needed to become CEO several years ago.
I took my own leap of faith just a few years out of school. I accepted a communications job in a technical industry even though my work experience was more general. However, my soon-to-be manager recognized my abilities and took a chance on me. Stepping outside of my comfort zone and believing that I had the skills needed to succeed in that job paved the way for a rewarding career—albeit one that I had never imagined.
How has embracing the unknown shaped your career? Leave a comment to let us know.