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Stepping Outside of My Comfort Zone

Two people looking at a sunset from a bench

Krissy Berger is learning to practice mindfulness and creating a moment of stillness in her day.

If we’re growing, we’re always going to be outside of our comfort zone.” – John Maxwell

Although I’ve learned many things over this past year, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that just when I think I have my feet on the ground, another curveball is just around the corner. Whether it’s a company reorganization or a family member getting sick, something is always cropping up. But this has taught me an important lesson: that I need to get comfortable with change. In fact, change is something that has helped further my career.

One of my Independence Blue Cross (Independence) mentors, Vice President of Operations Nicole Gold, shared the words of Heraclitus with me, “Change is the only constant in life.” I know I need to continue stepping outside of my comfort zone. In doing so, I know that I will make mistakes. Luckily, mistakes end up being good lessons.

My Career Path

My career at Independence began five years ago when I started as a small group setup team member who processed new business and retention paperwork. Next, I moved into a supervisor role and then eventually into my first manager role. Throughout my time at Independence, I used resources like Know Your Value and sought out mentorship opportunities in an effort to connect with like-minded individuals. When I started having open conversations with colleagues and mentors, I realized I’m not the only one feeling uncomfortable. So, I decided to start being honest when I felt overwhelmed and reaching out to trusted advisors to help me prioritize.

Management Lessons

Over the years, I’ve taken on many new teams and team members. This can be overwhelming at times. I’ve learned that it’s okay to not know everything. You can learn as you go and leverage each other’s help as a team. Because as much as you try to plan for everything, sometimes you just have to roll with what’s happening.

It’s also important to create balance. When we started working from home last spring, it became even harder to disconnect from work. So, I started saying to myself, “it’s okay to step away from the computer for lunch or a coffee break.” I did so when I was in the office and it’s okay to do it at home. It’s also important to have a clear cut-off time, too. Now that we are out of our peak season, I try to shut down at 6 o’clock every night to go for walk, make dinner, or just spend time away from technology.

I’ve learned through leaders like Independence Director of Client Setup, Kathleen Scanlon, about the importance of offering flexibility to my team. When we first started working from home last year, she told the leadership team, “Your team members may be caregivers or they may have children. We need to be flexible.” Although I don’t have children, I can only imagine how difficult it is to balance it all, so I make time for my team when it works for them.

Kristine Berger, working from home

Krissy Berger working remotely from her new office – her living room table.

Nurturing a Growth Mindset

As a manager, I encourage my team to seek out internal resources offered by Independence University, and I do the same. Instead of spending my lunch break scrolling my Instagram feed, I spend that half hour learning about unconscious bias. More recently, thanks to some of these courses, I’m finding moments to sit still and practice mindfulness. I try to create stillness before the chaos of my day begins.

What I’ve Learned

2020 taught me that the lines between your work life and personal life are intertwined. As everything was happening in our country this past year — civil unrest, political turmoil, COVID-19 — it became crucial to check in and make sure coworkers were okay. It was time to get comfortable having those uncomfortable conversations. I made it a point to let my team know that they had a safe space to talk. I wanted to help them find balance in the chaos, so I asked each one of them, “What is hard for you right now?”

What I’m Working On

No one knows what the future holds. There is a lot of uncertainty right now, so I take it one day at a time. My new motto for 2021 is, “Embrace each moment as it happens. Take life as it comes.” I also try not to worry as much. Worrying isn’t going to change what will happen. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years is to stay adaptable. The more you adapt to change, the better off you will be!

Kristine Berger

Kristine Berger is a manager in the Client Setup and Product Operations at Independence Blue Cross (Independence). In this role, Krissy manages the small group and broker setup teams for Independence and its affiliate as well as the validation and audit work on behalf of client setup operations. Krissy joined Independence in 2015 as a small group setup team member who processed new business and retention paperwork. Krissy worked as a business analyst in Customer Service and a supervisor in Client Setup prior to her current role as manager. Krissy received her Bachelor of Science degree from Saint Joseph’s University and a Master in Business Administration from Rosemont College.