Something I’ve tried to do more of this past year are those things that I dislike. I’ve made a conscious effort of exiting my comfort zone and putting myself out there. Often times we avoid situations that will make us uncomfortable, we seek that which is familiar to us. What I learned was that by avoiding things that make me uncomfortable I was not allowing myself to grow personally and professionally. The comfort zone keeps us from reaching our unlimited potential. In fact, the comfort zone is the dead zone.
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that public speaking is not my favorite thing to do. It is the exact opposite of my comfort zone. I love being the facilitator, the implementor behind the scenes. I much rather have someone else take the spotlight and me the face of my work. Perhaps that is why I love my job. I put together a very large gala fundraiser. I spend an entire year putting this event together but the night of, no one knows who I am or that they are there because of my work. Their attention goes to the emcees, our presenting sponsor and all of our supporters who have added to the event. I have no podium time nor do I want it. Here is the problem—I am comfortable with this. I have no qualms about my duties. I am not challenged by what I do, not in a way that matters. Someone recently asked me if I had to speak at my event and my response was “NO! I wouldn’t have taken this position if there was a speaking requirement.” What an eye-opening statement. I wouldn’t have taken this position doing something I love to do if I had to address the guests at the event!?! How awful of a feeling, to know and recognize that I would succumb to my comfort zone and give up on a passion of mine all because I don’t like to do public speaking.
I’ve made it a rule now that when I am asked to do a speaking engagement or give a presentation that if my only excuse or reason not to is that I don’t want to, then I have to do it. I am forcing myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve done a few different presentations this past year I otherwise wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t held myself accountable to this new rule. Not every presentation has gone smoothly but the fact that I put myself out there for the criticism is growth for me personally. I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate the feeling of accomplishment I get after each speaking engagement. That overwhelming feeling of overcoming my fear is worth all the anxiety leading up to and during the presentation. And what is cool is about half way through I always find that groove and what once was outside my comfort zone is now comfortable.
Here is my challenge to you: Stop thinking and start doing. Forget what is comfortable and challenge yourself to do something daily that forces you to grow. If you can’t do one little thing daily, make it a goal to do something at least once a week that you wouldn’t normally do. Anything! It doesn’t have to be professionally, it can be personally. I always thought golf was boring, a waste of time and then I made it a goal to learn to play (and for the dumbest reason too) and when I started playing I discovered how much I love the sport. Truly, I came out of hibernation to write this blog (blogging another personal challenge of mine) because I think it is important for a person to kill the dead zone. Get uncomfortable and discover all the possibilities and opportunities you will have once you do. And I don’t just preach, I practice too. I am pretty sure I just volunteered myself to emcee a large and public event this year (there may have been some peer pressure involved too). Stay tuned on those details!
And if you ever find yourself looking for an excuse, turn on some Kelly Clarkson and sing along “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”