For effective self-development and for realizing your full potential, you must develop the habit of stepping out of your comfort zone.
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone, feared that what you were getting into would be a failure, or nervously considered that you were taking a big risk?
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg could have stayed at Harvard, completed their top-pedigree education and still gone on to be quite successful.
The reason they are successful, the reason they were able to achieve what they did is because they were courageous enough to step out and venture to do something big. They gave up the prestige, comfort and security of a Harvard education.
If you never step out of your comfort zone, if you are always in control of what you are doing, if you are always getting the results you expect, then you would never know what you can achieve.
FACT: Every successful person has the same apprehensions when starting out.
They fear, and think about the following at various stages of the struggling venture:
- I have never done this before? Can I pull this off?
- I am not sure this will succeed. Is what I am giving up, worth this initiative?
- I do not know the end result. And whether I will be able to achieve it.
- When this fails what will people say? Will I be able to put up with the criticism?
- When this fails what is the other alternative I have?
- How much time would I have lost? What would be the point where I should give up?
Only when they overcome everything, become successful and famous, people talk about them.
Just like I did with Bill and Mark.
But as they are working on their venture, having stepped out into the unknown, they have the exact same fears as you and I.
It is very important to take the leap, in order to achieve something extraordinary.
If you do, then you have a chance to know what you are capable of, you realize your ability, you develop new skills and huge confidence and people around you take notice. You get a tremendous feeling of achievement!
It becomes contagious and you start looking out for the next big thing.
What if you fail?
Well, if you fail, you still get an education. You develop the ability to introspect and examine what went wrong. You realize the importance of having a Plan B. You emerge stronger and have a bunch of lessons on what to avoid the next time.
Some failures scar people for life, and they would not dare risk something again. They go back into their shells.
The tough ones emerge stronger from failures and go on to become successful. Einstein and the light-bulb is a famous example.
J.K. Rowling’s (of Harry Potter fame) initial writings were rejected by more than a dozen publishers.
Navjyot Singh Sidhu was dropped from the Indian cricket team and termed a strokeless wonder, i.e. a person who could not hit a cricket ball outside of the batting square, leave alone the park.
Amitabh Bachchan was rejected by All India Radio and a bunch of film producers initially.
Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, all have stories of rejection.
But they all went back to the drawing board, worked out a different plan, put in extraordinary effort and took another shot.
They did not give up.
Whether it is a new project, a startup venture, taking on the captaincy of your sports team, here are three things to think about:
1. Ensure that it is something you enjoy doing. Let it be a passion of yours, and your own decision.
2. Think big. It would be silly to spend a year or two trying to achieve an incremental improvement (unless it is a small piece of a big plan).
3. You must feel the apprehension – this will indicate that you are indeed stepping out of your comfort zone and into the unknown.
The alternative is to do nothing. Inaction. You continue to do the same things as before. You are comfortable. Possibly secure.
But then you do not develop new skills. And your fears remain with you, because you never tested yourself if you could overcome those. And the more fearful you get, the more to you stay frozen in inaction.
If you want to become an effective leader, if you want to develop your confidence and skills, then by all means step out of your comfort zone, and take on that initiative which you feared doing all along.
In closing, here are two of my favorite quotes on this topic:
Don’t be afraid to take a big step. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.
Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.
Image (c): www.flickr.com, author Kaz Vorpal