Kylie Sturday, the 335th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is a textbook example of the virtues of having a growth mindset and stepping outside your comfort zone.

During an earlier phase of her career, Kylie was suddenly asked to give a training presentation at work, because she’d developed a reputation for being open to learning and striving for ways to help the organisation improve. Kylie had done international studies at university and assumed her career would progress along that pathway. But the presentation made her realise that she was even more passionate about learning and development. So she had the open-mindedness to take her career in a new direction.

These days, Kylie heads a learning and development team at the NSW Department of Customer Service. She’s found that most people are open to learning new skills provided you explain why it’s important and how it will help achieve performance goals.

Throughout her career, Kylie has made a point of seeking out new challenges, even though that often means feeling out of your depth and working with a new group of people. But Kylie realises that’s the only way we grow.

That explains why Kylie wanted to take the slightly scary step of having lunch with a stranger; she believes you can learn something new from everyone you meet.

I’ve had periods of my life where I’ve been reluctant to change and others – like right now – where I’ve constantly pushed my boundaries. The first path is comforting in the moment but ultimately leaves you feeling unfulfilled; the second is uncomfortable but far more rewarding.

I really appreciate surrounding myself with positive, outward-looking people like Kylie, because it helps me become a better person.