Successful Entrepreneurs understand the importance of continually stepping outside their comfort zone. Why is this important? Let's first take a look at what occurs within the comfort zone.
Within The Comfort Zone:
-There is No Challenge
-It is Easy
-It is Comfortable
-There is no personal growth
-Everything stays the same - nothing changes
-Live a Life of Mediocrity
-Low Self Worth/Self Esteem/Confidence
If this is what an individual wants from their life, then the comfort zone is the place to be. If however, one wants to have a different/better experience at anything, it is important to take that step outside of the comfort zone.
What Occurs Outside of The Comfort Zone:
-Improved Self Worth/Self Confidence/Self Esteem
I have been on both sides of the fence. I have had times I stayed within the comfort of my own comfort zone. I have had more times though outside of my comfort zone, and that has given me so much more fulfillment. This realization is only something you know when you experience it and it applies to every area of our lives.
I have had times when I did not prioritize my own physical fitness. I did not go to the gym, I ate what I wanted and did not exercise. How did that play out? I could feel myself actually aging....aches, pains, gaining weight, not feeling good in my clothes, lack of energy - and this was all in my younger years! Just before my birthday of the start of the 2nd half of my life (50) I decided to join the gym. Having spent the first 49 years not prioritizing my own fitness, this was a big step out of my fitness comfort zone. It takes effort to go to the gym 6 times/week. It takes a change in thinking, a change in priorities, a change in focus and in personal fitness goals. What are the benefits...why would someone actually choose after 49 years of doing something the same way, to take a dramatic turn like this? One year later, I had lost 20 lbs, built strength I never realized I was capable of, built my confidence in an area that I didn't even realize was lacking, had more energy and felt better and healthier than I ever had in my entire life. I honestly wonder why I waited so long to take control in this area of my life. I look back and know that I simply made a conscious choice to take that step outside of my fitness comfort zone, and because the results followed, it made me self motivated to continue still today.
This same concept of stepping outside of our comfort zone applies, of course, to our career or our business life as well. I think back to 1986, when I first became an entrepreneur. I was extremely shy and part of my role in the business I started was to do presentations in front of small groups of 5-10 people. The first one was dreadful, I looked at the floor the whole presentation. I didn't have the confidence to look up and make eye contact with anyone. But I kept at it, and eventually I got very good at it. Then about a year later I was asked to speak to a group of about 500 people to train on what I had learned in my business. I will never forget how scared I was. I literally thought I was going to throw up and just felt like crying. But I took a deep breath and did it anyway. What really amazed me was the fact that I felt the fear tremendously before the event (for months). I felt the fear tremendously when I got on stage - but after about only 2 minutes on stage I started to relax and it wasn't nearly as bad as I had built up in my mind. That is when I learned for the first time that fear is simply False Expectation Appearing Real....it is in our mind, and we fuel it with conditioned beliefs.
After this experience, I learned that I could face fear and get through it, and was determined to learn how to get better at pushing through fears. So in this particular area - speaking - I started reading books, going to seminars, learning techniques and teaching myself how to get more comfortable at speaking. Here I am almost 30 years later and my business is built around speaking and doing trainings. There are still times when those little butterfly's go through my stomach, but I know that they disappear very quickly....... it is just my imagination that is causing them, and I know that I feel SO much better when I push myself. Who wants to stay a shy wallflower and be uncomfortable their whole life? I could have done that very easily, because that was my personality 30 yrs ago. But looking back I am so grateful that I took that first step outside of my comfort zone. It was the starting point to allowing me to spend the last 30 years in a state of adventure, personal growth, success, fun, happiness, self fulfillment, and confidence. I have learned that these steps I have taken, are not just for me - when we learn something new, or get better at anything, we have the benefits, but so do other people in our lives. Our children, our partners, our family/friends, and people that we come into contact with through our life in business and socially. It is a ripple effect and sometimes we are not even aware how something we do, that we strive for, opens the door for so many other people.
Here's a little exercise I learned many years ago about the comfort zone. Draw a circle. That is your current comfort zone. Now, put an X outside of the circle. Draw a new circle around the 1st circle making sure the X is within that new circle. The X represents the step you take outside of your comfort zone. The beautiful thing is, that when you take that step, you have just made your circle bigger, ie - your comfort zone has expanded. You can't go back, you can only go forward. Think of it like this - if you speak English only and you learn a new language - you can't go back to only knowing English - you now know two languages. You have learned. You have grown. You have expanded. You know how to speak a new language and can also teach someone else how to say words in that language. It is not just for you. You may have done it initially for your own benefit, but once you get there, you can now share that with other people.
When you understand the concept of the comfort zone, you also understand that it applies to every area of our lives. This is where the excitement in life is - outside of our comfort zone! We can't learn a concept, and not have it affect every area of our lives. That is what personal growth is all about and is something that all successful entrepreneurs are committed to.
Debbie Ruston - Entrepreneur - International Trainer, Visionary Leader