Step out of your comfort zone!

Brian Skerry took this incredible photograph for National Geographic a couple of years back – Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone!!

I do a lot of work with Companies and individuals who are in transition – they are either working towards a strategic goal or a personally transitioning to a new state. As the title of this piece implies, they have a challenge getting over the edge.

Here are some thoughts to help you muster your courage for getting over the edge – you can do it!

CAL

As a young officer in the British Army, I was fortunate enough to be processed through an institution that thrived on blood, sweat and acronyms. One that has stayed with me is CAL. When faced with a decision, – You can Change it, Accept it or Leave it (CAL).

If you choose to Change it, then do you very best to change it, otherwise you will always wonder if you could have changed it. If you cannot change it, then try to accept it and I mean really try to accept it – don’t hold any underlying grudges. If you can’t change it or accept it, you last option is to leave.

I worked for a large corporate a few years ago and every time somebody decided to exit from the local office, the Country manager didn’t replace them, he simply distributed the work amongst the rest of the team. I tried several times to change this by suggesting we should employ additional people because the rest of the team were overburdened (Change), but to no avail. I tried to accept it and to work with it but could not perform my role to my satisfaction (Accept) – so after much consideration I left the job (Leave).

Put the glass down

A friend of mine lectures at the local university and I have seen her do this a couple of times with great effect! She fills a glass of water from a bottle on her table picks it up and turns to the student audience. They all expect to be asked the classic “Is my glass half empty or half full” question. Instead, she asks, “How heavy is this glass of water I am holding?” She gets a variety of answers and when she is ready, she explains, “From my perspective the weight doesn’t matter, it all depends on how long I have to hold it for. If it’s a minute or two – no problems. If it’s an hour or two then my muscles will ache a little. If it’s all day, my hand will cramp and my arm may well become numb and spasm- causing me to drop the glass. In each case, the weight of the glass is the same, but the longer I hold it, the heavier the glass feels to me.”

She then comes to the point which is that your stresses and worries in life are like the glass of water. If you think about them a little, nothing happens. Think about them longer and you will ache a bit. Think about them all the time and you become numb and paralyzed, incapable of doing anything else until you drop them. Her point is to emphasise the importance of letting go of your stresses and learning to put your burdens down. If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it is time to put the glass down.

Do Nothing

As with all cases, there is always the option to do nothing. I really don’t recommend this one! Simple….If you don’t move, you will always find yourself in the place. If you don’t change, don’t be surprised to see your competition leaving you behind.

Zig Ziglar said. “If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.”

Get a Coach

Christopher Logue wrote a poem often attributed to Apollinaire titled, “Come to the Edge”……..

Come to the edge.

We might fall.

Come to the edge. It’s too high!

COME TO THE EDGE!

And they came,

and he pushed,

and they flew.

©Christopher Logue

“and he pushed”. Have you ever watched young birds learning to fly? The parents move further away from the nest to encourage the chicks out of the nest to feed. The incentive is food and the parents provide a support network encouraging the fledglings. The birds will eventually fall to the ground and learn that using their wings reduces the impact. The parents will “coach” their offspring to find suitable cover and will continue to feed the fledgling for some time after they have learned to fly. Whilst you are not learning to fly, a coach can provide great support, will help you to identify the way forwards appropriate for you and most importantly, they will hopefully push you.

I leave you with two great quotes that have helped me over the years;

“In any given moment we have two options: To step forwards into growth or to step back into safety” – Abraham Maslow

And

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” – Socrates.

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