Go out of your comfort zone. The whys and hows
It is really easy for me to curl up on my couch with my heated blanket and a book and not come out all winter. It is my safe place, my happy place and I love it there. It is also comfortable for me to talk to just the people in my sphere- my friends, my agents and my past clients. I enjoy talking with them, get great ideas, and even leads on deals. I could go along at this pace indefinitely in both my personal as well as professional life, and I would be pretty content, and there really isn’t anything wrong with being content- until you decide you want more- and then, content isn’t going to cut it.
Are you at that point? We have all been there at one point, so if that is where you happen to be right now, here is why you need to get yourself out of your comfort zone.
I like people. I like them a lot. I enjoy meeting them and getting to know them, but only under my own terms. If you put me in front of a classroom or a meeting, I can make a speech off the cuff and not even break a sweat. But if I am at a party or on a plane and the only thing we have in common is the host or the destination, I withdraw into my shell and become tongue tied. I have the fear of opening up and getting rejected and being trapped next to that person for the duration of the flight. I have NEVER been the person who had the confidence to turn to a stranger and find the words to begin an amazing conversation. I wanted to be that person, but it just wasn’t me. I resigned myself to the fact that I would never meet the stranger that changed my life and have that great story to tell. Until I did…
Back in December, I boarded a plane for Mexico on my second annual-solo-get-the-Hell-out-of-Dodge-and-get-my-shit-together-trip. The whole vibe of the trip is to be solo and in my own space and get much need alone time to just feel invisible so I can do whatever I want and clear my head for the coming year. So that day, with that mission in mind, I was even less receptive to meeting a stranger than I usually am.
I had just settled into my seat and felt the calmness of being alone and not having to talk to anyone when the guy next to me asked if I could switch with his wife so they could sit together. I gladly got out of my middle seat (it can’t get any worse than the middle seat) to help them and secretly hoped I was moving to an aisle. I plopped down in my new chair (aisle!!) and thought I was back in my comfortable solo mode.
I opened my book and started reading, but within moments I felt myself distracted by the man to my left. He was also just reading. He wasn’t doing anything to distract me. He didn’t smell or fart or make weird breathing noises, he just had some energy that was pulling me away from my book. Something kept poking at me, and I didn’t recognize it. After trying to ignore it for half an hour, I finally realized that I wanted to talk to him. I don’t know why, but I just did. There was something about him, but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t think it was a romantic thing. He was much older than I am, and it didn’t feel romantic at all. I knew I had to talk to him, but I got nervous and had no idea how to start a conversation.
So, I took some deep breaths, gathered up my courage, then turned to open my mouth, and jumped out of my seat and ran to the bathroom to escape. It was just too hard. I mean, what the Hell did I possibly have to say to this person who was just trying to read his book in peace? He was on his way to the beach. Why would he want to talk to me? Ugh. I felt all my insecurities coming back from high school as I hid out in the bathroom to gather my courage. I looked at my reflection in the wonky airplane mirror and realized that I had to do this. I didn’t know why, but I just knew I had to do it. I walked back to my seat petrified, but knew that I had to figure out a way to talk to this person.
I sat back in my seat and for the next 10 minutes all I could focus on was how I was going to start the conversation. Then the flight attendant came with the immigration and customs forms and I asked if I could borrow his pen! Hahaha. Could it be any easier? He smiled at me and then the magic happened and the conversation started and didn’t end until we got off the plane. I gave him my card but never heard back from him, but that is ok.
I am forever grateful for meeting him and for having that hour conversation and here is why:
- He was a really interesting person. We had a lot in common, as we are both in real estate. We are in different markets, but it’s all the same game. We had a really great conversation and I learned a lot from him
- He told me about a deal he did in the 70’s, and it turns out that my good friend Lois was involved in that deal. It reminded me to call her and make a date for our annual birthday drink, this year to celebrate her 88th! We ended up going out for cocktails when I got back from my trip.
- My flight was more fun and interesting than any other solo flight I ever took. I felt energized.
- We were swapping stories and I told one that made him laugh. A true, from the gut, can’t catch-your-breath-belly-laugh. And it made me laugh. And it made me feel good that I can be funny and make someone laugh. And it made me feel connected and valued and all the positive feelings about myself that were missing when I was shaking in my seat afraid to talk to him.
- It validated my intuition. I knew I had to speak to this person, even though it is totally out of my comfort zone to strike up conversation on a plane with a stranger. As the conversation progressed, I saw myself as confident and capable.
- I did it. I got out of my comfort zone once, and that means I can do it again. And again. And again.
It has been six weeks since that conversation, and since then…
I have gone outside my comfort zone 4 times.
- I started using video in my business which has been on my list for two years but has freaked me out.
- I reached out to an agent that I admire and respect and told her that I want her to join our company.
- I installed a light fixture in my house. And it works!
- I made plans to go snowshoeing. Stay tuned to see how that turns out:)
For now, here are a few simple ideas to get you out of your comfort zone. Try them out as an exercise and see what happens.
- Write with your other hand.
- Go to a movie or lunch by yourself.
- Unplug from social media for an entire day. And try to do without your phone, email and all things internet while you are at it.
I hope this story inspires you to go out of your comfort zone, and I would love to hear the results in the comments section below.
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