Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

August 23, 2021 | 20 minute read

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Society conditions us to believe that comfort has value and should be a life goal, but this reduces our motivation to improve and grow. Being comfortable often prohibits us from chasing our dreams. Treat your comfort zone as your home base. A place not to stay in, but to return to after each exciting and growth-filled adventure.

Comfort is a natural state that most people crave. Leaving it means increased risk and anxiety, which can have both positive and negative results. Optimal anxiety is the place where your mental productivity and performance reach their peak. For many, increased performance and enhanced productivity just sound like “do more stuff.” There are significant and life-changing benefits when you choose to break free of your self-limiting beliefs. There are people out there (future clients) who are dependent on you to be brave and step outside your comfort zone. This is your time.

I've found that the more comfortable I get, the less desire I have to grow. During my successful 20-year career in financial services, I would find that even with success, I was getting comfortable. When I realized I was getting comfortable, I knew it was time to act. I would take a course on a topic I wanted to learn more about. I would read a new book for inspiration. Or my personal favorite, I would reach out to my executive peer group (mastermind group) and set up a time for all of us to meet and share ideas. This group provided more value to my career than anything else. I would walk away inspired, energized, and armed with new ideas that I couldn’t wait to share with my peers and clients. This is exactly why Plancraft was created. If you haven’t done so yet, join now.

Every new goal you want to achieve can be found outside of your comfort zone. This is a fact. Think about it for a moment. Everything you already have in your life already fits nicely into your comfort zone. The car you drive, the home you live in, and the income you make. You already acquired it so you don’t need to stretch your zone to make it a reality.

But what happens when you want to double your income? Or better yet 10X it? Now you must work harder— or better yet, smarter—to make it happen. You must acquire new skills and knowledge. What got you here won’t get you there.

I want to take you through a journey. A journey that will literally change your life because once you become comfortable being uncomfortable, you awaken the greatness inside of you and you will become unstoppable. Your presence will become commanding. When you show up with your knowledge and expertise and speak to prospects, you are going to disrupt how they think forever. You will not only gain confidence, you will also attract new clients in abundance because they need you and everything you bring to the table.

Before we begin, let’s make sure we understand what we are dealing with: your comfort zone is a psychological boundary you create for yourself (emphasis on “yourself”). You stay within your comfort zone because it includes everything you know and understand. Because of this, comfort zones offer you a sense of control and peace of mind. Getting out of your comfort zone forces you to give up control and familiarity, but in doing so, it allows you to engage in new and exciting professional and personal experiences. You will dispel your fear and replace it with hope.

So now that we have identified the problem, let's work on the solution.

GROWTH

Stage 1. COMFORT ZONE: Low risk = low reward

As human beings we crave comfort, safety, and being in control. These are all great attributes if you are satisfied living a life of mediocrity and being “average”, but you’re better than that. How do I know that you specifically are better than that? Because greatness is within each of us. It’s a matter of choice to unleash our potential onto the world and break the invisible chains that hold us back.

Some people give me the excuse that they are going through something hellish right now so they can’t focus on their future or their goals. Do you want to know what hell really is? Hell is dying and meeting the person that you could have and should have been. Meeting the person you were meant to be, and then spending eternity regretting not taking more risks or applying yourself or simply not being courageous enough to take that tiny step just outside your comfort zone.

Simply put, comfort zones are where dreams go to die.

Tips: Start small and build from there

    1. 1. Wear your watch or bracelet on the opposite hand
    2. 2. Try a new restaurant you know nothing about
    3. 3. Take a new route to work

Even these small and seemingly insignificant changes can trigger something powerful in your mind. Your comfort zone is expanding.

Stage 2. FEAR ZONE

“You’re thinking of doing seminars and webinars? I know an advisor who lost a lot of money doing those."

"Networking? I tried that. Everyone I met was selfish and just looking for business."

"Planswell? I know a guy who didn't get much out of it." 

Sound familiar?

When you begin to venture outside of your comfort zone, you will enter the fear zone. Your confidence is still low because you’re not quite sure you can do it. You will look for excuses not to try something new and you will be affected by others' opinions. This is where most people give up, so it’s important to get past this stage as soon as possible. In my years of business experience, I never once was dissuaded from trying something new by a highly successful advisor. It was always my equals or failing advisors who warned me about the dangers of trying something new. The lesson here is to get advice from people who are already doing what you want to do. They are the ones who can provide you with the advice and encouragement you need. If I want to learn how to sell large permanent insurance policies to successful business owners, why would I ask the struggling advisors selling term policies? They are stuck in their own comfort zones so of course they’re not going to encourage me or provide valuable advice to help me progress. They are simply not qualified. Surround yourself with OQP (Only Quality People).

Tips:

    1. 1. Seek advice from qualified people (successful advisors already doing what you want to be doing)
    2. 2. Connect with people who inspire you
    3. 3. Make the decision to act and just do it

Stage 3. LEARNING ZONE

Congratulations, you’ve made it past the Negative Nancy’s and entered the learning zone. Here is where you will face your challenges head on and discover solutions and systems to progress towards your goals. By acquiring new skills and knowledge, you are automatically expanding your comfort zone. You are filling your brain with solutions to your challenges. You’ve discovered that there are a lot of advisors who are already doing what you want to be doing. Now, it’s just a matter of reaching out to them and setting up a call or a coffee meeting. There’s a saying that goes “experience is the best teacher.” WRONG! Experience is a substitute teacher. Wisdom is the best teacher. You can’t live long enough to make all the mistakes. Work with advisors who have already made all the mistakes and learn from them. If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you, but if you’re willing to learn, no one can stop you. Become unstoppable.

Tips:

    1. 1. Find a mentor
    2. 2. Offer up 50% of all compensation (at least) for them to teach you what they know
    3. 3. Become a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as possible from your mentor. Be coachable and listen. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Use them proportionally

Stage 4. GROWTH ZONE – Living a life of purpose

The growth zone is where the magic happens. What was once considered hard now barely registers on your anxiety meter. You are hitting your goals and you have a clear plan for how to achieve even bigger objectives. You wake up feeling exhilarated to start your day. You work a full day and come home full of energy and excitement as you reminisce about how amazing your conversations with prospects went. Even though you put in a solid ten hours of work, you come home full of energy and eager to share your successes with your friends and family.

Tips:

    1. 1. Discover your “WHY” (why are you in this business?)
    2. 2. Track your goals and constantly revise them upward
    3. 3. Pay it forward; become a mentor for someone else.

Now let’s put it all together in a story to bring it to life.

STORY TIME: There is an advisor named Alex. Alex has been stuck in his comfort zone for years. Alex feels safe living in his current lifestyle but wishes he could have more. His house is nice but it’s not his dream home. His car is decent but  he'd love an upgrade. His family vacations are enjoyable but he wishes he could afford a luxury trip to Europe instead of an all-inclusive. Alex realizes that he is stuck in his comfort zone and if he wants to live the life of his dreams, he will need to do something different. What got Alex here will not get him there. Alex is stuck because of his mindset. Every time he wants to take bold and brave action, his mind starts thinking of everything that can go wrong.

Alex wants to 10X his income within 3 years but has no idea how to do it. He tried talking to his peers and friends but found they deflated his confidence and added more questions than answers. So, Alex went back to checking e-mails, reading the latest Bloomberg report, and occasionally watching the stock market. This made him feel a bit better as he pretended to be productive. Then Alex came across an article titled, “Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable” by an author whose name he couldn’t pronounce, and a switch went off in his brain. Alex finally decided to put his foot down and chose to trade his negative thoughts for optimism. He served those negative thoughts an eviction notice so that he can make room for positivity and hope. He realized he was sabotaging himself and if he wanted to create a better life for his family, he would need to make some changes.

The article advised him to find an advisor who was already doing what he wanted to do and that’s exactly what he did. Alex wants to provide high-end solutions to incorporated business owners. This niche market has great cash flow and often comes with large insurance needs for succession planning, employee benefits, personal protection, key person insurance, and wealth generation. In addition to all of that, one day when the business is sold, it will provide a large sum of cash that will need to be invested.

Alex went from being stuck in his comfort zone to being stuck in the fear zone. Now that he identified his market, he had no idea how to service or provide value to these people. He asked his work colleagues and they gave him some names. Alex knew some business owners and asked them if they liked their current advisor. To his astonishment, he discovered that half of them didn’t work with an advisor. Their reasoning was they had no time to look for an advisor because they were too immersed in their businesses. They had the need for an advisor, but didn’t know where to find one that could serve their specific needs. Not only was Alex closer to finding a mentor, but he inadvertently stumbled across several prospects that were in his niche market. This excited Alex which gave him the confidence to quickly leave the fear zone and enter the learning zone.

Alex had a choice to make. He could bury himself in books, courses, and videos to learn how to provide value to business owners or he could save himself hundreds of hours of time and learn from a qualified mentor. A mentor who is already successful in the arena Alex wants to enter. Alex recalled from the article that it’s better to learn from others' mistakes than make them himself.

The following is one of the greatest lessons I ever learned as an advisor: 50% of something is always greater than 100% of nothing. The correct course of action that Alex should take is to team up with a mentor and offer up 50% of all commissions that come with closing one or more of Alex’s prospects. This is the best money Alex will ever give up. Alex will learn the processes and strategies that provide value to these clients. Since he will be involved in the process, he will learn the language and how to handle objections. Alex is literally getting paid to learn.

Let’s put things into perspective; what are the odds Alex closes his first handful of prospects? The very first time he gets handed an objection that he can’t overcome, the prospect will lose confidence in Alex and his chances of closing the client will diminish significantly. If Alex gets in front of 5 qualified prospects and each prospect is worth $10,000 in commissions, chances are Alex will close none of them. However, since Alex is personable and trustworthy, let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say he closes one. A hundred percent of one new client is $10,000. Alex is happy but he didn’t learn much about incorporated business owners or even how to replicate his success. But what if Alex brought in the mentor who has already figured out how to close business owners. Alex and the mentor now team up to discuss strategies, potential objections, and solutions to problems that the business owners themselves haven’t even thought of yet. The team approach will now lead to four new clients worth $40,000 in total. A cool $20,000 goes to the mentor and $20,000 goes to Alex. As you know, 50% of $40,000 is greater than 100% of $10,000. In this scenario, Alex doubled his income from $10,000 to $20,000. I would even suggest that if Alex offered 100% of the commission to his mentor, Alex is still much further ahead than if he tried to do it alone. The education he received from working with a mentor is far greater than the $20,000 he would gave up. But Alex gave up nothing, he is ahead by $10,000 AND now has the skills and the knowledge to go out and close future incorporated business owners on his own.

The story continues: Alex has now left the learning zone and entered the best zone of all. The zone full of inspiration, passion, and excitement known as the growth zone. It’s here that Alex will realize that his goal of 10Xing his income is no longer a pipe dream but a very real achievable goal. Alex wakes up every morning with purpose and a spring in his step because he knows the three business owner prospects he is meeting with today will be lucky to have him as their advisor. Alex can handle objections with ease and comes across as the expert in his field because he has become the expert. In the growth zone, Alex realizes he already accomplished his goal of 10Xing his income and living the life of his dreams,  so he now has even bigger goals and aspirations in life. Alex wants to expand his practice by hiring other advisors to help grow his business even further. He has decided to donate part of his newfound wealth to his favorite charity and looks forward to mentoring other advisors to do what he did and prosper. All of this happened because Alex decided to change his mindset and leave his comfort zone.

I would like YOU to leave your comfort zone. Comfort is the enemy of progress. It’s not difficult once you get started, but you have to get started. Nothing works until you work, so let’s get to work. Wear your watch on the opposite wrist, try that new restaurant. Better yet, invite your future mentor to that new restaurant and discuss how you can both benefit from a joint venture together. Provide a world class experience to your clients. You don’t have a J.O.B. (just over broke); you’re in business and you need to create a customer service experience so good that you can’t be ignored. Prospects will gravitate towards you. You will create a reputation and you will be like a magnet, attracting your ideal clients.

Words of wisdom:

Before you can become an expert on anything, you must first become an expert on yourself. You turn into what you tune into. You can’t control the thoughts that come into your mind, but you can control the thoughts that you dwell on. It’s a choice. Turn off the news and turn on content that will feed your brain with motivation and inspiration.

Growth comes at the expense of comfort, so get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s not about getting out of your comfort zone to reach your goal. It's about widening your comfort zone so far that your goal fits comfortably inside. Once you do that, hitting your goals will become easy.

How to move outside your comfort zone

Trying something new can be difficult at first, but you can take steps to prepare yourself. As a financial advisor, take these steps to grow:

  1. Identify your niche market.
  2. Have a clear plan.
  3. Write down your goal.
  4. Take the first step.
  5. Keep a positive mindset.
  6. CANI (constant and never-ending improvement); Moving out of your comfort zone should be a constant endeavor. It should be looked at as a journey, not a destination. Your professional and personal growth will become easier as you overcome one fear and take on another. It’s all about momentum, mindset, and confidence. As you level up your prospecting skills, you will notice you are leveling up as a person. As your confidence grows, so will your competence.  As your competence grows, so will your comfort zone. What once seemed daunting and overwhelming now looks like just another challenge to conquer on your way to building and living the life of your dreams.
  7. Identify your niche market. The more you know about your market, the less scary it becomes. You can overcome your fear by doing research to reduce any uncertainty or—better yet—find a mentor who can act as a guide to help you navigate your new market. You will now have a clearer idea of what to expect and how to prepare.
  8. Have a clear plan.  If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail. Find out where you can find your ideal prospects. Groups, clubs, associations, events, etc. Then create an action plan for the best ways to communicate with them. Seminars, webinars, calls, email, advertising etc.
  9. Write down your goal and share it with key people. Declaring your intention to depart from your comfort zone can help you gain the support you need to stick to your plan. Tell key members of your family and supportive friends about your goal. This will keep you accountable to others and you are more likely to stick with it. Do NOT share your goals with people who will doubt you or try and talk you out of it. Sometimes the people who love us most are the ones who hold us back. They think they are protecting us from failure and disappointment. You’re beyond that now. You understand failure is an integral part of success. Embrace failure for what it is: an opportunity to learn and grow. When you venture outside of your comfort zone there are only two possible outcomes. You will either win or you will learn. And when you don’t win, you keep learning until you win. Tell yourself this venture will not end until you win. Success is your ONLY option, and your ONLY outcome.
  10. Take the first step.  No matter how small or insignificant it may seem, it’s imperative that you take that first step. Taking actions will familiarize you with the new situation and help you gain the confidence you need to achieve your goal. Speak with an ideal prospect about what their problems are. Not because you want their business but because you’re seeking to understand. There should be no pressure to impress or provide advice. Just a simple conversation that will allow you to better understand the problems you need to solve for your clients.
  11. Once you leave the safe harbor of your comfort zone, you must overcome the negative feelings that may prevent you from achieving your goals. While you should prepare yourself to face unfavorable situations, remain positive and convince yourself you can handle any negative outcome. Negative situations are valuable opportunities to learn and grow. Motivation is like grooming—it’s required daily. Watch inspirational videos or write down quotes that resonate with you. Follow social accounts of positive people. 

Optimal Anxiety

Routines can be stable and comforting, but they can also turn stale and confining over time. All those inspirational messages telling you to break out of your comfort zone aren’t just trying to sell you bungee cords. Doing something new and potentially frightening helps stave off burnout and is good for your brain.

In order to maximize performance, we need a state of relative anxiety. A space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This space is called “optimal anxiety” and it’s just outside our comfort zone. Too much anxiety means we’re too stressed to be productive and our performance declines. The idea of optimal anxiety isn’t anything new. Anyone who’s ever pushed themselves to get to the next level or accomplish something significant knows when you really challenge yourself, you can do amazing things. However, pushing too hard can cause negative results, and reinforce the feeling that challenging yourself is a bad idea. It’s our natural tendency to return to an anxiety-neutral, comfortable state.

I would suggest staying focused on all of the amazing benefits you will get from stepping outside your comfort zone. You’ll be more productive. Comfort is the enemy of productivity because without the sense of unease that comes from having deadlines and expectations, we tend to do the minimum required to get by. We lose the drive and ambition to do more and learn new things. We also fall into the “productivity” trap where we pretend shuffling paperwork around or reading emails is productive. Unless you are communicating with clients or prospects, what you’re doing is not productive. "Not productive" doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Keeping a compliant practice is very important, just not productive. Delegate as much as possible and focus on truly productive tasks.

Changes and challenges in the future will become easier and less stressful. Learning to live outside your comfort zone will prepare you for life changes that inevitably come with a successful career and a fulfilling life. As you take on and conquer new challenges, future challenges become easier to deal with.  “Productive discomfort,” as they call it, becomes more normal to you, and you’re willing to push further before your performance falls off. You are building momentum, or as some people call it, “The Big Mo”.

You will become more creative. Seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us and educate us in a way that little else does. Trying new things can make us reflect on our old ideas. A positively uncomfortable experience can help us brainstorm, see old problems in a new light, and tackle the challenges we face with new energy.

Now that you know how to conquer your fears and live outside of your comfort zone, I’m going to explain why it’s important to return to your comfort zone regularly. You can’t live outside of your comfort zone all of the time. You need to come back from time to time to process your experiences. The last thing you want is for the new and interesting zone to quickly become commonplace and boring. There is a natural tendency to be impressed by new things only to have the incredible become ordinary after a short time. In one way it drives us forward, but in another it keeps us from appreciating everyday experiences. This is why you need to practice gratitude. The key to true happiness in life is your ability to be grateful for everything that happens in your life both, good and bad.

Never underestimate small beginnings, and don't belittle your own accomplishments. Remember them and use them as inspiration as you go onto the next thing. When you venture outside your comfort zone, wherever the starting point may be, it's a big deal. Yes, it can be tiring to be outside of your comfort zone for extended periods of time, but as you grow and level up as a person, your comfort zone will expand to include so many amazing accomplishments and experiences. Think of your current comfort zone as a pond. Everything inside that pond is familiar and safe. As you push the limits of your comfort zone, your comfort zone will become the size of a lake and as you continue on your path of CANI, you will wake one day to discover your comfort zone is the size of an ocean. What once made you recoil in fear is now second nature and done with ease. Similarly, don’t limit yourself to big experiences. Maybe yoga pushes you out of your comfort zone just as much as bungee jumping. You will want to learn what you’re capable of. That’s another reason why it’s important to return to a comfortable state sometimes and just relax. Just don’t forget to bring back as much as you can carry from those inspired, creative, productive, and slightly uncomfortable moments when you do.

There are three things you must do to be successful:

  1. Change your mindset; you don’t get what you want in life, you get what you are.
  2. Practice OQP ; you are the sum of the 5 people with whom you spend the most time.
  3. Develop your communication skills because once you open your mouth, you tell the world who you are.

Most importantly, don’t forget this process is a journey, not a destination, so do yourself a favor and enjoy the ride. As we come out of the pandemic, your role as a trusted advisor is more important than ever. Your prospects are struggling and looking for you. Make it easy for them to find you. Unleash your greatness!

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Ermos Erotocritou

Business & Performance Coach

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