Reflections on the first year: leaving the comfort zone
There is a skill that is rarely discussed, but has been critical for me in my first year with Changing the World 101. In fact, looking back, it’s been essential every time I have chased a dream or tackled a big project.
The skill: leaving the comfort zone.
Leaving my comfort zone is hard because it means taking a risk, it means that I may fail* at something that is really important to me. It seems easier to stay within my comfort zone than it does to risk failure.
For better or for worse, I have to do things that are way outside my comfort zone almost every day for Changing the World 101. The example that comes to mind right now is cold calling. I’ve spent most of this week cold calling schools whose students I can help, and asking for a meeting with the people responsible for bringing in leadership programs.
I’m an introvert by nature** so I would rather do almost anything besides calling a stranger and asking if they want to chat with me for 30 minutes.
But cold calling is simply something that must be done if I want to grow Changing the World 101.
Since leaving my comfort zone is an absolute necessity, the question becomes, how the hell do I get myself to the point where I can do it? I want to share a few of the methods I use, because I think they will help you too. I also have some good news on the topic: the more I’ve done it, the easier it gets. The tricks I frequently use are:
- I remind myself of the big picture, and why it is I’m pursuing this goal in the first place. I also think about how amazing accomplishing it will make my life.
- Right before I have to leave my comfort zone, I do something that either relaxes me, or makes me laugh.
- I give myself rewards for successfully leaving my comfort zone.
- I think about what the worst thing that could actually happen is. In the case of cold calling, the worst thing that could realistically happen is someone could hang up on me. That’s not actually so painful.
- And the most powerful thing I do to help me leave my comfort zone is I acknowledge the fact that in reality, being passive and not chasing after my dreams is a far worse hell than any risk involved with pursuing my dreams.
*I’m actually very reluctant to use the word “fail” here because I don’t really believe in failure. I believe that “failure” and “mistakes” are myths that we learn in school and pop-culture. I’ll elaborate in the next entry.
**Yes, I know that seems odd for a speaker to claim to be an introvert – but I really love speaking.