It’s not always easy to step out into the public eye. Whether it’s a speaking engagement or a conversation with the cashier, there are times when I know I’d rather be at home watching movies on Netflix. In order to expand a personal network or relationship, the first courageous step must be taken.
A step that takes you outside of your comfort zone.
When something feels terrifying, even on the smallest level, our natural inclination is to avoid that “something” no matter what. To stay inside of the comfort zone. Here’s how I work on taking that first step into the terror.
#1. Just be honest with yourself. There are many things I don’t like about stepping into the public eye, but that is because I’ve been rejected, neglected, or even bullied a few times by strangers who thought my ideas weren’t worth anything. We must be honest with ourselves and look at why we’re hesitant to step outside of our comfort zones so any issues we have can be addressed immediately.
#2. Make each moment your own. I find myself fighting the inclination to change my thinking when others try to bully me into a specific approach. Or ridicule me to make my approach seem like it isn’t the right choice. We need to each take ownership of each moment we are given. It’s our thoughts and feelings that are important. Not everyone will agree with us or embrace what we have to offer, but that doesn’t make our perspective incorrect.
#3. Recognize collaboration opportunities. I had this plaque hanging up in my home while growing up that said this: “A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken.” Sometimes we must step outside of our comfort zones to build our networks or chase new opportunities. There are times when we can also step out of our comfort zones in the company of trusted associates, friends, and family. If there is an opportunity to take that first step forward with someone, then take it. We are all stronger when we’re together.
#4. Be willing to take a step backward if necessary. I’m stubborn. I don’t like admitting when I’ve failed or when I’ve made a poor decision. I just like to keep pressing forward to let the chips fall where they may. In that stubbornness, however, I’ve learned an interesting lesson. If you can pause for a moment, evaluate where you are, and recognize that a different course of action may be a better opportunity, then you can actually venture further away from your comfort zone. If we can recognize a moment of stubbornness and make a correction immediately, even if it is a backwards step, we can still move forward when the time is right.
#5. Take the plunge – just do it. I am in control of my actions. You are in control of yours. When the time comes to step outside of a comfort zone, it is each individual soul who controls whether that first step forward is going to happen. Make the decision to take the plunge.
There are days when I must force myself into the next great frontier of life instead of grabbing a bag of sour cream and cheddar potato chips and enjoying a day of Netflix. Then there are days when stepping outside of my comfort zone is the only thing I want to do. Some steps are easy. Others are difficult. We must take them nonetheless.
What actions do you take when you’re ready to step outside of your comfort zone? What outcomes did you receive if you took the steps outlined above? I’d love to hear your stories about each step you’ve been able to take.