Are you challenging yourself? Or are you settling for life in your comfort zone?

The perennial favourite – I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here – has hit our TV screens again. It’s interesting to look at why the ‘Celebrities’ are in there. Some, no doubt, will be there for financial reasons and the opportunity to potentially/hopefully kick start their careers, whilst others may be looking for new challenges having seen it previously on the TV, whilst some others may be looking to overcome hidden fears. Regardless of the reason, they’re certainly challenging themselves out of their comfort zones.

When is the last time you challenged yourself and pushed yourself out of your comfort zone?

Lots of Business Owners start their own business by challenging themselves to earn what they did prior to starting the business – but also having control over their hours (clearly intending to do less hours than they did previously, in most cases). When I started my own business, my first target was to earn what I was earning previously, as quickly as possible, but working way less hours and travelling less.

Sadly, it’s a statistical fact, though, that not all businesses survive. Strangely, a lot of the businesses that fail are technically sound – it’s mostly the gaps in the business leader’s thinking and mindset that cause the problems. Specifically, the inability to stick to key disciplines results in poor business performance, or business failure.

However, the things we see with businesses that achieve significant, profitable, consistent growth, is that the owners/directors are willing to do things that make them uncomfortable by challinging themselves in order to achieve their goals. They become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable – and this takes a lot of practice and application.

Of course, lots of business owners/directors set goals for their business – you want to grow, you want your team to help you get better results, you may even want to reduce the number of hours you work too. And setting goals is great because it sets the direction and enables you to formulate a plan of action to achieve that goal.

However, the truth of the matter is that setting a goal is only part of the story. Too many business owners/directors set goals to achieve more, but then continue to operate in their comfort zone, carrying on doing things the way they always have done them.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Living life on the edge

So, here’s the thing. If you could do anything today, knowing that you couldn’t fail, what would you do differently? If it was possible to achieve your goals by operating in your comfort zone, you would already have achieved them. Alternatively, achievement would come from just setting the goal and pointing yourself in the right direction, knowing that you’d get there.

The truth is that in order to achieve those BHAG’s (big, hairy, audacious goals) that you’ve set for your business, you are going to have to step outside of your current comfort zone, into your performance zone. That might involve any number of things;

  • increasing your prices
  • charging clients for things that they’ve previously had for free
  • looking how you spend your time so that you ensure you spend 5 hours a week working ON your business
  • personal development
  • it might be having the critical conversations with your team members that you’ve been putting off (and learning how to do that effectively)
If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space – Stephen Hunt

And if you can operate right on the very edge of your performance zone then you’ll be more likely to achieve the courageous goals you’ve set for your business.

Growth happens – by challenging yourself and putting yourself under pressure

Moving outside of your current comfort zone makes you feel uncomfortable, and certainly makes you feel as you’re under increased pressure. You’ll feel perturbed – a feeling of anxiety or of being concerned or unsettled. It’s the exact opposite of feeling ‘unperturbed’ – that feeling where you are unflustered and in a sense of calm.

As your business grows, so you change. You move from being the person who does everything – like everyone does when they first start – to understanding that you need to delegate to others in order to grow. That in itself – letting go – will push you outside of your comfort zone. You will also need to start systemising tasks, alongside the transition from manager to leader if you’re really to have an engaged team that can run your business without you needing to be there all the time.  Just moving from owner to manager in itself, and then from manager to leader, will see you experience significant perturbation.

So, when you feel that sense of perturbation, you should recognise that you are challenging yourself and therefore growing and expanding your comfort zone – and it’s a great place to be.  Doing this repeatedly, and by expanding your comfort zone over time, you’ll find that things that were once difficult for you to do, become so much easier. But remember, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable takes practice, and lots of it.

As Jim Rohn – probably the greatest business philosopher of all time – stated;

“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary”.

He also stated;

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment”

Start to get disciplined in feeling uncomfortable by challenging yourself and stretching your comfort zone.

Within the ActionCOACH franchise there are many different types of people wanting different things from their coaching business – some want to give back to the business community, others wanting a lifestyle business, and others wanting to grow to a million pound plus business. Spending time with these different people at our conferences and training sessions (not so much this year due to Covid-19) opens up my mind to the different opportunities – expanding my own comfort zone and giving me the confidence to push the business to the next level. The danger comes when someone only knows their own business model and isn’t aware of what actually is possible.

Are you staying in your comfort zone?

Are you challenging yourself?

Are you the best you can be?

As a Business Coach I work with the Business Owners and their teams not only on growing their business, but also as a person.  When is the last time you stepped back and thought through the end game for you and your business? As the great American author, Steve Maraboli, so eloquently asked, “If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?”

Here’s a couple of things to try:

1.  Start dreaming: lie back in the sun and think about:

For you personally;

  • Your perfect week – how many days a week are you working? how many hours per day are you working? what are you doing when you’re not working?
  • What things at work are you really good at? what should you be doing less or more of?
  • Which places would you love to visit? Who would you like to go with?
  • What activities you have never tried? Or activities that you used to do and would like to do more of?
  • How could you help a cause? Some charity/voluntary work?
  • What new skills could you find? Playing a piano, learning a new language etc

In Business

Over the next 3,5,10 years…

  • How big will you be? What will be your local/regional/national/international coverage?
  • How large is your office/factory? How big is your team?
  • What do your team and your customers say about your company?
  • What awards/qualifications have you received?
  • What is your turnover and profitability?

Strangely, lots of people find this blue-sky thinking really difficult. They find it much easier dealing in the here and now, rather than looking beyond the current envelope. If you’re in this bracket, then start thinking about the next year and work up to ten years.

2.  Challenging yourself – rocking chair

To do this, find somewhere quiet and get comfortable, close your eyes and picture yourself in your 80’s in a rocking chair with your grandchildren at your feet. You start to tell them about all the achievements in your life. So,

What are you most proud of?

What are the top three achievements?

What legacy have you left the world?

Once you have done this start making a bucket list for what you’d like to do personally in your life. Follow this up with writing down the goals for your business. Your business goals, set correctly, should allow you to achieve the items on your personal bucket list. Once the goals are set, share them with others, and you become accountable. Once you have the goal you can start planning and making it happen.

If you already have everything you want in life, I doff my cap to you. For everyone else, start working out what that ‘everything’ is – then start challinging yourself to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and start achieving it. It’s never about crossing the finish line, it never is – it’s all about crossing the start line. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but the magic happens outside of your comfort zone, never within it. Start the journey – step by step.