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Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you’re in a leadership position, you’ve probably had times where you had to do things you were uncomfortable with. If you haven’t, you will. When we look at the most influential leaders of the world, we see confidence and control. The part we tend to overlook is that they’re human. I’m fairly certain that most, if not all, of those in positions of authority have had to overcome many obstacles. What sets them apart from those that are attempting to climb the ladder of success, is that they stepped out of their comfort zone.  You’ve heard that a million times and it might sound cliché. Nonetheless, it’s valid.

You’ve probably also heard that confidence comes with repetition. Doing certain tasks once can be difficult, let alone repetitiously. This can be anything from simply talking to people to placing a new item on the dinner menu at your restaurant. The unknown leaves us with anxiety. What will others think? Will this decision have a negative outcome? In what light will this portray me? How does one move past these feelings and step out of that comfort zone when our brain is blocking us?

We can’t move forward if we aren’t willing to take a step. You’ll first need to have a clear picture of what you are looking to achieve. Once you’ve established that, determine what it will take to make that goal a reality. It’s probable that there are steps involved that are uncharted territory for you. Distinguish what those steps are and why you haven’t attempted them before. Ask yourself this question: “If there was no chance of rejection, would this make a positive impact in my life?” This is the first step in establishing if your comfort zone is what’s holding you back.

Much of our comfort zone, and lack of stepping out of it, is an inside job. As much as our brain enables us to achieve the impossible, it also keeps us from our full potential. We tell ourselves lies. We tell ourselves that we “can’t” do certain things… that we “shouldn’t” do something. Granted, that voice is sometimes reason. But, often it’s fear. Make it a habit to perform daily exercises that get you closer to making the changes you need to make. If your issue is talking to large groups of people, practice in your everyday life.  Strike up a conversation at the coffee shop on your way to work, particularly if that’s something you don’t normally do. That may seem silly, but it’s an action that could make a dent in your discomfort of public speaking.

Remember: there are facts and there are feelings. One of the familiar feelings we have when thinking about doing something we aren’t at ease with, is a feeling of being fake. We don’t feel qualified enough to portray what we need to causing us to feel like impostors.  The fact is, we’re not pretending to be someone else. We’re simply reaching inside to find a piece of ourselves that is buried.  Therefore, some people have adopted the “fake it till you make it” mentality. It’s a way to retrain our pessimistic minds that we CAN do the things it’s convinced us that we can’t.

Each day, stretch yourself a little further. Wear (or carry) something that gives you confidence. Listen to music that gives you energy and pumps you up. Talk to someone that is great at giving pep talks or even buddies up with you to challenge you (and maybe themselves). Don’t be afraid to be less than perfect. Because guess what? You are! We all are. Before you know it, you’ll become the leader you’ve been imagining. And when that happens, be sure to help the new leaders coming up the ranks. Just like you, they’ll need it.

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