Where the magic happens

I recently saw a drawing of a Venn diagram that I loved. It had two circles on it. The first circle said “your comfort zone,” and the second circle said “where the magic happens.”

The catch? The circles in the diagram weren’t touching.

In other words the diagram said that to make the magic happen, you have to leave your comfort zone and I 100% agree with that.

Every great leader has to leave their comfort zone to change the world and every individual has to leave their comfort zone to change themselves; if we just keep doing what we’ve always been doing then nothing will ever change.

Over the years I’ve had to do many things that brought me out of my comfort zone: volunteering in the third world, stepping on stage to deliver a speech (yes, I still get nervous), and building Changing the World 101, all initially terrified me.

I developed a personal process to leaving my comfort zone and I want to share it with you so you can begin leaving your comfort zone to become a more effective leader and a more awesome individual.

1) Think about what will happen if you don’t leave your comfort zone?The first step is to realize that if you don’t leave your comfort zone, nothing will change.

Let’s say that you want to raise $3,000 for a volunteer trip to Costa Rica. Start by understanding that if you don’t start asking for donations you’ll never be able to take this trip. Use your natural desire for accomplishment to begin the process of leaving your comfort zone.

2) Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? Next, think about the realistic worst things that could happen if you leave your comfort zone and how likely they are to happen. Often when we don’t analyze the true possible outcomes, we over estimate how risky it is to leave our comfort zone.

If you’re going to call your friends, family, and acquaintances, to get donations for your volunteer trip you may be anxious.  The absolute worst case scenario is that one of the people you called would get annoyed. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not really so bad is it? It’s also highly unlikely that anyone will truly be annoyed.

3) Now take baby steps… Many people have a tendency to try to accomplish entire projects all at once and get so overwhelmed that they never even start.

In terms of fundraising, this could mean trying to call 75 people in one day. For most of us making this many calls is way too intimidating.

Instead of trying to accomplish something that takes you light years outside of your comfort zone, set a small goal. Maybe call two people your first day. Once you get good at that, you can scale upwards and call a few more people each day.

4) Reward yourself! When you’ve successfully left your comfort zone the first few times – even for just a few moments – give yourself a prize. This will give you an incentive to leave your comfort zone and create a psychological association between leaving your comfort zone and good things happening.

After that first day of making two calls, buy yourself a pizza, watch your favorite TV show, or take a big break. You deserve it.

We all have to leave our comfort zones from time to time in order to improve our communities and improve ourselves. Though it is never fun, by using the above process, it will be much easier for you and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly the fear of leaving your comfort zone melts away.

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13 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Where the magic happens”

  1. Andrew Zahn November 16, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I love that drawing on the index card!

    May I borrow that?!!?

  2. jasonconnell November 16, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Go for it Andrew!

    Full disclosure though: it’s not mine to give. A friend sent it to me.

  3. Anonymous November 16, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    yeaaaaaaa buddy!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Marco Botros (@btsmarco) November 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I love the Drawing and the Post, You are a good leader and Writer… 😀

  5. Peter Jetter April 30, 2013 at 5:22 am

    “if we just keep doing what we’ve always been doing then nothing will ever change.”

    Hm, i doubt that. If that was true, we would have the power to stop change from happening. Change is the only constant. The world moves on, whether we like it or not. I see the point of possibly reducing the impact of external change withinin your circle of influence.

    The assumption of “if i always do, what i always did, i will always get, what i always got” may not be true in many cases. Behavioral patterns, that had a high probability to be successfull in past may not be the best approach in the current context anymore. And our context change rate keeps accelerating, IMO.

    • Jason Connell April 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Peter –

      I appreciate your perspective.

      At the macro level, I mostly agree with you. As the world spins, everything changes whether or not I want it to. In a matter of weeks my cell phone will no longer be cutting edge. In a matter of months my wardrobe will be out of fashion. In a matter of years, I will be old. Your point is well made; all of these things will happen entirely independent of my agency, action, or will.

      At the micro level, I’m not sure I agree with you. If I’m out of shape and my normal habits are to eat cheeseburgers and fries for dinner, watch 8 hours of TV everyday, and chain smoke cigarettes, there is no chance that I’ll magically get in shape without changing. In order for me to get in shape, I would have to change some of my behaviors.

      I really appreciate you reading and joining the conversation.


      PS I lied about my wardrobe being out of fashion in a few months – it was never in fashion to begin with. 🙂

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