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Margaret Stewart

Director of Product Design

Palo Alto, CA

If you feel a bit scared, and a bit in over your head at the thought of a new opportunity, you're likely on the right track.

On paper, I had the dream job: I led a great team, worked on a product I loved, and felt very proud of my accomplishments. But something wasn't right. After a major and successful product launch, I should have been elated and excited for the next phase. While I was proud of what my team and I had accomplished, I thought about the future with a sense of dread. After reflection and conversations with trusted mentors, I realized this was because I had stopped learning. That sense of dread came from thinking about the coming months and years – doing the same job, and, sure, doing it well – but not growing by challenging myself. I knew what I had to do: I had to get outside of my comfort zone again in order to re-energize myself.

So I searched. I considered several projects inside my own company and several opportunities outside as well. Finally, I decided to pursue a new adventure. On paper, this new role appeared to some to be less glamorous and less senior than my previous one. But I knew otherwise. This role had enormous growth potential, and I felt confident I would have a much bigger impact than I would have had if I'd taken the easier, more conservative route and stayed in my old job.

I won't lie; it was scary and a bit sad to leave. The team I'd built was like family to me, and I was worried I might never be as passionate about a product as I was about the one I'd been working on. But the best decisions I've made in my life and my career have always involved risk – smart, calculated risks. And this one paid off in spades. The new role was more challenging and exciting, and I went on to have much greater impact than if I had hesitated or stood still. Instead, I leaned in.

Change is hard, but when we push ourselves outside our comfort zones that is truly the way we grow, learn and do more than we thought we could handle. If you feel a bit scared, and a bit in over your head at the thought of a new opportunity, you're likely on the right track.

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