Tuesday, October 17, 2006
By definition, a "comfort zone" is a comfortable place to find yourself, but to grow and expand in your business or personal life, you must break out of the familiar and stretch yourself to try new things.
I know first hand about growth coming from being outside of the safety of a comfort zone. Here are four examples from my life of how I currently find myself swimming in the deep end without my "floaties:
1. My job. About a year ago I was given an amazing career opportunity. This sales/business development position is with one of the top companies in the United States. The job is great, and the people I work with are phenomenal. But I had no experience in the industry. Nine months later I find myself learning more than I ever have in my working life, however I still feel like I do not know enough. There is no "comfort zone" for me at this point. Each morning I take a deep breath and do all I can to make a difference....but my learning curve is still steep. I have had some successes, but not nearly enough to feel confident. Fortunately my co-workers are helping me and there is a lot of support and training.
Yet even though it is hard work to learn a new industry, I find the challenge exciting and I look forward to having more big victories in the future!
2. My book. Writing a book is difficult. It takes long hours, crazy tenacity and a sprinkle of good luck. The real difficulties begin after the book is published. Selling copies of the book is one hundred times harder that the actual writing. I am enjoying the promotional part of the book business, but I have not yet discovered all the answers. I speak often on the topic of building a professional business network, and that helps drive sales. The book also has achieved a modest level of "word of mouth" advertising, and Amazon.com continues to order more copies!
While creating "buzz" around a book is not something I have ever done before, it is exciting when the book gets mentioned in an article or on a blog. Everyday is part of the adventure.
3. Physical Fitness. Two years ago I weighed 25 pounds more than I do today. I had never been much of an athlete, and when I hit my mid-30s my metabolism turned on me. My diet was not as healthy as one might recommend, and thus I got fat. I decided to lose the extra weight and set out on a 6 month plan of "moving more and eating less". It was hard to skip the beer and ice cream (not to mention all the running I had to do), but I soon got used to it (it became my new comfort zone). The hardest part was the maintenance of keeping fit. My wife recently recommended I join her yoga class on Sunday mornings. Running a few miles for a 30-something guy who was overweight was hard, but yoga is something new altogether!
I have gone to yoga for three weeks and I find myself to not have as much balance or flexibility as the others in the class. This is a perfect example of being out of my comfort zone. This is a another world for me. Yet I continue to attend, and each week I find myself getting more accustomed to the program.
4. Marriage and Parenting. As my daughters get older there is nothing that can prepare me for being "the dad". Fortunately I had a great example in my own father. He always seemed comfortable in the role of husband and father, but that might just be because I was the youngest of four boys, so he had seen it all by the time I came alone.
I just have to face each day and not worry so much about my lack of comfort. Instead I just focus on the task at hand.....and be the dad. Every parent I know seems to have to wing it.
Part of me wishes that I could retreat into "comfort zones" in all these areas of my life, and ingnore the difficulties. However, I am striving to grow in all these areas, so I have to face the hard parts in order to achieve the rewards that are in the future.
Don't be scared trying new things or even experience the occasional failure. Get out of your comfort zone. Like in Yoga, you have to stretch yourself.
Have A Great Day.