Why Being Uncomfortable Is the Key to Success

by admin on August 30, 2011

Because of my background in organizational development and several years’ practice in Post Merger Integration Process work, one of my greatest areas of expertise is change management. In addition to giving public talks on the topic, I educate my executive clients and coaching students on change management. All of this made it incredibly embarrassing to discover a blind spot in my personal change management last month, a story that I’ll share with you now.

One of my basic models in change management is The Comfort Zone Challenge™. The comfort zone in any area of our life—work, relationship, living, etc. — is defined as the area in which we feel safe, confident and comfortable because we know it deeply and don’t expect surprises, challenges or threats. Depending on your character (whether you’re a change-avoider or change-seeker) and your values, you react to extended time in your comfort zone by feeling more comfortable, relaxing and melting into known structures, habits and patterns with less and less desire to change anything, OR you react with boredom and frustration and want to change something.

When you want to change something, or you have to deal with a change that has already happened and demands a response from you, you automatically start moving from the center of your comfort zone toward the inside edge. While doing that your feelings change, and you feel increasingly excited, nervous or anxious. Again, depending on your character and values, you welcome this and judge it as positive, OR you resist it and think negatively about the process.

Moving with one foot, or both, out of your comfort zone requires a leap of faith to face the unknown outside your known circle of life. Some people experience panic and others elation, depending how much adrenalin or serotonin is produced in their brains.

One common mistake is to think that when you leave your old comfort zone, you leave everything behind. This is wrong. Instead, you take what is aligned with your new life from the past with you. Elements of your old comfort zone help you create a new comfort zone while you explore the new “unknown” and turn it into your new “known.” You never really lose what you had and what you had grown into. You just expand, and your comfort zone expands with you. Isn’t that wonderful? Eventually the next change process starts, and you grow again.

This is the model, and I know it by heart. The part I wasn’t aware of played out like this…

I change a lot in my life, and people think of me as very courageous and willing to take high risks. From their point of view that might be right. But for me, I realized that by avoiding certain things in my business that make me feel uncomfortable, like planning, marketing and selling, I stay in my comfort zone, focused on becoming a better and better coach. But if I want to fulfill my mission in life, which is to raise the level of freedom and love on this planet, I need to reach more people. If I want to reach more people, I need to become a great businesswoman and not just a great coach.

For the benefit of potential clients, I have to stop hiding behind my expertise and the clients I already have. I can’t grow by staying in the center of my comfort zone! Feeling uncomfortable means doing things I haven’t done before — doing things that make me feel stupid and double left-handed. I have to do this in order to grow myself and my business.

When this realization hit me like a lightening bolt during Pamela Bruner’s event, I knew I had to act upon it within the next 24 hours, or it would be just another forgotten insight that vanished into the back drawer of my stubborn brain. I would have to do something that would make me feel highly uncomfortable and learn to be okay with feeling this way.

So this is what I did. On the second morning of the conference, which was attended by about 200 people, I didn’t change, fix my hair or apply any makeup. I went straight to the conference looking the way I did when I got out of bed, my breathing and heart rate quickening as I felt irritated eyes upon me.

In the first part of the morning session about “7 Elements of a Transformational Entrepreneur,” when Pamela asked if anyone had something to share about “putting yourself out there like there’s no tomorrow,” I did. I stood up trembling, feeling naked and vulnerable in my thin, braless pajamas, and went to one of the microphones to share my insight with the full house. I tell you, I don’t remember if I have ever I felt soooo uncomfortable in my own skin like I did during those three to five minutes! But I got standing ovations and opened the door for other people in the room to face their resistance to feeling uncomfortable and to overcome it too.

What I now know for sure is this: My level of success in business and in life is a direct reflection of my willingness to feel uncomfortable. I’ll repeat that because I really want you to get it: Your Key to Your Success is Your Willingness to Feel Uncomfortable!

What about you? Where in your life and business do you resist feeling uncomfortable? Are you killing your potential by doing so?

Feel welcomed to my new club of “anonymous comfort zone lovers.” Become honest. Do what you normally avoid, feel uncomfortable and act despite it, reaping the wonderful fruits that are waiting for you outside your comfort zone!

If you want to get a FREE 60-minute coaching session with me (a $497 value), you have to step out of your comfort zone and do something productive that you haven’t done before—something that makes you feel uncomfortable—and share that story below!

You have until the 15th of September to do this. From all of the stories shared we will draw one and announce the winner in my next newsletter. If you want to remain anonymous, send your story via email, and we will keep your name confidential.

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