ARSHRM - Arkansas SHRM State Council

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the Human Resource Profession in Arkansas

SHRM -  Society for Human Resources Professionals

Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Categories: General

Greetings from your Young Professionals Director! My name is Kinyata C. Gray, and I have the honor to serve you in this role on the ARSHRM State Council. You can read more about me by clicking the “Meet Your Young Professionals Director” tab on this page. In this role, my overarching function is to connect Arkansas’ Young Professionals (YPs) 30 and under to diverse opportunities for networking, professional development, and community involvement. As we know, we Millenials are the future (as corny as that may sound), and we are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. This number, of course, is expected to continue climbing over the years.

So what does that mean for us YPs in Human Resources? I personally believe that signals exactly what the premise of my role is. The need to have opportunities for mentorship, professional development, and connection to lead in our workplaces and in our chapters! I am certain that our best teachers can, in fact, be each other. So, with this blog of sorts, my goal is to share my own personal and career experiences that hopefully, you can learn a little from. I also want to provide a platform for us to connect through this blog, because I most definitely want your feedback as well!

For this first entry, I want to focus on Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone. Last year, my boss, the Vice President of Human Resources, sent me to a two day Dale Carnegie course titled High Impact Presentations. In years past, she had attended this course, and thought it would be a great experience for me and a few peers to have. Let’s just say we had no idea what was in store for us, and how we would be tested in stepping outside of our comfort zones. The fear of public speaking is real for a lot of people, so you can imagine the trepidation and high nerves that radiated throughout our meeting space. In short and without giving away too much about the course, I had to present several times over the course of two days and be critiqued. Although touted as a “natural” apparently I say “definitely” too much. Who would’ve thunk? Anyways I was noooot ready for this course…literally, as we had little to no time to prepare before presenting. As someone who overly prepares and sleeps with my presentation notes under my pillow the night before presenting, my nerves were shot. (Yes, I’ve been placing notes/test materials under my pillow the night before tests/presentations since junior high. It has not failed me yet. I cannot be the only one who has done this right?) Back to Dale Carnegie. The premise is if you can perform well under pressure and with no preparation, you can do so when you have prepared…

Now flash forward a few months later to my big presentation in front of our entire leadership team (a tough crowd of over 200). At that time, I was serving as leader of our Resource Team which is our multidisciplinary leadership team focused on cost reduction, revenue generation, and quality improvement. Serving as the leader of this team was in itself a step outside of my comfort zone. Steering the team through the end of one fiscal year while planning for the next on top of my regular work duties, was probably the biggest test of my career to date. So as the youngest member of this team and therefore with the least years of healthcare experience under my belt, I undoubtedly felt as if I had something to prove with this presentation. Now, this was not the first time I had presented in front of leadership. Earlier in the year I spoke on the riveting topic of Sexual Harassment and introduced our new initiative. We can save that story for another time!

So with this presentation, I wanted to invoke a sense of excitement and motivation for leaders to finish the fiscal year strong. I correlated my personal experience of finishing my MBA and my motivation for doing so to what our motivation should be for our program-the patient experience. I incorporated my very own Taylor Swift meme, and a Beyonce’ gif to prove my points, and to make the presentation fun and essentially me! I thought it was going well as the audience seemed engaged, and I got a few laughs. On my very last slide with the Beyonce’ gif, because of course, you have to end with Beyonce’, I looked at one leader in the audience who appeared to have a look of bewilderment on her face. I thought to myself “Does she not know who Beyonce’ is?? Is the point I’m trying to make falling flat? Did I make this too generational?” As I sat down I saw my boss in the back smiling, and then my phone proceeded to light up with text messages from my peers congratulating me on a job well done. My boss even sent me a text message later in the day that the CEO of the hospital was bragging on my leadership presentation. I still have this message screenshot today! It felt good! I utilized what I learned in my Dale Carnegie course, took a risk with my presentation theme, and most importantly I stepped outside of my comfort zone.

(How I said I would walk across the stage when I received my MBA)

In conclusion: Do you have a fear of public speaking? Do you have any public speaking stories you would like to share as well? How have you stepped outside of your comfort zone? What inhibits you from doing so if you haven’t?

Additional Professional Development Opportunities for Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

What I’ve Recently Read:

  • Personal: The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. Shonda is the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and shares her experiences in how she said yes to every opportunity that she would have normally said no to for a full year. It was a great, motivational and funny read! I would recommend especially if you’re a fan of Shonda’s work (#TGIT on ABC)! I have taken on a similar challenge in my countdown to age 30 by being what I deem as bold, taking risks, and working on a better me (i.e. dying my hair blonde, getting my eyebrows microbladed, weight loss, going to places I’ve never been before which included a 13 day tour of Europe). Yes, this is my year to do everything I have always talked about doing, and I have been referring to this as“#yatascountdownto30”. Gotta love a good hashtag!
  • Career Oriented: Radical Candor by Kim Scott. This book is full of insight as to how to give and receive feedback, make smart decisions, and keep it moving by being radically candid when it counts. There are even tips on how to be radically candid with your boss that us as Young Professionals can most certainly take advantage of.

What I’m Reading Next:

  • Personal: Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • Career Oriented: Being a Supervisor 1.0 by Joseph F. Duffy

I also recommend listening to SHRM’s Honest HR Podcast available at, iTunes or Spotify.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any ideas for future blog entries, young professional initiatives in your chapter, or simply want to chat!

Read Kinyata Gray's Bio


Cell: 870-680-0070



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