Why Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Is the Best Thing You Can Do as an Entrepreneur
You can't guarantee anything -- except that you're going to be uncomfortable at different points. Here's how to make the best of it.
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When you decide to become an entrepreneur, you're choosing to walk the road of the unknown. That's what you're getting into. There's no other way around it.
You could run out of money. You could get featured on the front page of the New York Times, then have to scramble to handle the influx of new business. You're going to be in uncomfortable, weird, bad and great situations because your job is dynamic. Every month that you grow and your business changes, it's going to be different.
You can't guarantee anything -- except that you're going to be uncomfortable at different points. And, when you know that, you can decide to start practicing getting out of your comfort zone.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to do it.
Do something that's uncomfortable on a regular basis.
A while back, I sat down and made a list of all the things that make me uncomfortable. Eating new foods was near the top of the list, so I made it a priority to try a new food on a weekly basis.
Nine times out of ten, I don't like the new thing I've tried. But that one time out of ten has been amazing (asparagus and spinach have been big winners for me lately). You can do something similar, but it doesn't have to be with food. Maybe it's just taking a different route to the office or trying a new morning routine -- anything that will get you comfortable with newness and discomfort.
Start really small.
And don't think that when I talk about trying new things, I mean making huge, sweeping changes. It's better to start really, really small.
I'm afraid of spiders. I suck at public speaking. I'm terrified of heights. But I'm not going to overcome these fears by going all Fear Factor in a room full of spiders or thousands of people waiting to hear me speak.
Instead, to get rid of my fear of heights, I might go on a mountain hike. Or fly somewhere on a plane. Maybe I can go to the Grand Canyon and gaze down its steep cliffs for 30 seconds. True, I might not get over the fear itself. But my ability to handle that fear -- and any other fear of the unknown, in general -- will grow.
Put yourself into different roles.
This quarter, I'm serving in the role of customer success representative (CSR) for my software company, Mailshake. I'm talking to customers, I'm answering emails and doing webinars. I'm not an expert in any of these things, so I'm out of my comfort zone. I do a lot of these things in different capacities -- just not in this state, which makes me uncomfortable.
At some point, we'll hire a customer success person, but going through the process myself helps me understand what it is I'm trying to solve with this role. Without this discomfort-inducing exercise, I wouldn't really understand what the role is, what the metrics are and what it'll take for someone to be successful. But if I do the work -- even for a few hours a week or a few hours a day -- I'll know more about it.
Now, when I'm ready to hire a CSR, even though I haven't hired one before, I'll be one step closer to being comfortable with the process.
Push yourself, with exercise.
I lost my fear of pretty much everything a few years ago, when the engine on my skydiving plane blew at 3,000 feet and we all had to jump unexpectedly. I figured, if I can survive that, there's not much else I need to be scared of.
You don't have to be into high-adrenaline sports to get this benefit. Any big exercise, or activity-related, goal will work. Back in 2013, I'd never run a mile before. But I set a goal for myself to run a six-minute mile. I got a couple of apps on my phone, and in eight months, I was able to run that mile in under six minutes.
The process was painful as hell, and the actual experience definitely uncomfortable. But when I got through it, I couldn't help but think, "If I can do that, why am I so afraid of business decisions?" By pushing myself physically and testing my limits, I was able to apply the same thinking that made what I learned running a sub-six-minute mile applicable to all aspects of my business.
Remember the things that make you comfortable.
I've been married since I was 23. I'm lucky enough to have a beautiful house to go home to. That's my norm. So, even when I'm uncomfortable during the day, I know that, at night, I'm going to go home and be in comfort.
You don't have to have a fancy house or a loving family to be successful as an entrepreneur. But you should find what's true for you. Find the things in your life that bring you comfort, and make it a point to remember them. Knowing you have something comfortable to go back to makes discomfort in business much easier to bear.
How do you get out of your comfort zone, and how do you feel that doing so has helped you as an entrepreneur? Leave me your notes below: