So there I was at my very first toastmasters meeting. I remember like it was yesterday. It was that portion of the meeting called table topics in which you have to stand up and talk about some topic for 1-2 minutes. As I stood to begin walking to the front, I can remember how nervous my insides were and how sweaty my palms became. As I said the necessary words to get me into the flow, “Thank you toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, and guest,” I could barely breath as I began to say my answer. I got through that moment without passing out and remember walking back to my seat thinking, “I guess that wasn’t so bad.” Now that I look back on that first toastmasters experience three years ago, it is almost laughable how nervous I was at the time. It’s interesting because I look back on that time and remember thinking that I can’t wait until the day that I don’t get nervous anymore. The strange thing about that, however, is that even three years after the fact I still do sometimes get nervous. What I have learned from this experience and many similar experiences is that it’s okay to be nervous. That means you are excited for the moment. You have to be willing to push through this nervousness, however, and always push yourself to be uncomfortable in life. While it may be hard at first, there are three very good reasons that you have to make this a focus of your life.
MOST PEOPLE DON’T DO IT
This is one of the biggest reasons that I do a lot of different things in life. When you can find something that the majority of people just will not do, you have to force yourself to do it as much as possible until it become second nature. In relation to pushing themselves out of the comfort zone, most people shy away from this consistently because being uncomfortable is a hard feeling for many people to stomach. When you have the feeling of nervousness and sweaty palms, your brain automatically tells you that this is not good and therefore trains you to not follow through with this action. It will begin to help you rationalize all the reasons that you should NOT do something that makes you feel this way and comes up with a million excuses of why this course of non-action is the best thing for you. This is what most people feel and they don’t have the ability to overcome it. They may try from time to time, but if they allow themselves to listen to that voice of fear and doubt every time an uncomfortable situation presents itself, it will soon become almost impossible to reverse. If you can overcome this quickly in life and push yourself to do that which you don’t normally do, the exact opposite will happen, however. Soon, it will be much easier for you to do something that takes you out of your comfort zone because you’ve trained your brain to ignore the warning signs and do what you know you should – something that will put you in a small, select group of people in the world.
ANYTHING NEW FEELS UNCOMFORTABLE AT FIRST
This is a fact of life. When you begin something new, it is going to be extremely uncomfortable and awkward as you work to learn the dynamics of whatever new adventure you are exploring. Therefore, unless you desire to only do the same things that you are used to and not try anything new, you have to just get good with the fact that discomfort should be a regular part of your life. I experienced this two weeks ago when I went skating with my girlfriend. I was extremely uncomfortable as first, since I didn’t grow up roller skating and hadn’t done so for almost 20 years. I remember thinking how awkward I must look to some of the other skaters who were a fraction of my age and skating circles around me, as I worked to figure this thing out. I felt good at that moment, however, because I realized that I truly didn’t care how awkward I looked or how some of the other people may have laughed at me because the only way I was going to get better was to go through that stage. By the end of the two hours we were there, I’m proud to say I was MUCH better (still kinda terrible though) and was proud of myself for not giving up and practicing the entire time. The old me would’ve stop after about twenty minutes of embarrassment of watching nine-year-olds laugh at me while they zoomed past. The new me, however, said “duck it” and embraced the discomfort because it’s just part of the process.
GROWTH COMES WHEN YOU PUSH PAST THE POINT OF COMFORT
Anyone who works out will tell you that the only way you will ever achieve major growth is to push yourself further than you were the day before. To become a world class bodybuilder, each day you must be willing to push yourself past the point that your muscles can handle to tear the muscle fibers down, so they can regrow stronger than ever. This process take mental toughness and fortitude as your body will tell you to stop when you are exhausted and it hurts more than you can handle. All the great bodybuilders will tell you that it’s the last two reps AFTER you have pushed yourself to its absolute max in which you experience the most group. This is why bodybuilders always have spotters. They need someone there to make them lift more than their body is physically capable of at that time because of the great benefits it brings to their growth. This is the same in life. When you push yourself to do more than you originally thought was possible and step outside of your comfort zone to challenge yourself to do something that doesn’t come naturally, you are setting yourself up for the greatest growth opportunity possible. And just like many gym-goer’s have partners there to spot them, it is only when you have someone who is also pushing you to be better, that you will see some of your biggest breakthroughs ever.
Discomfort. No one particularly likes this, as it puts us all in a place in which we don’t know what to say or do and often feel that we look extremely stupid. It’s like driving down a winding road in a rural town that you’ve never been down before. It’s dark and your GPS isn’t working because Google doesn’t work in the “sticks,” and you have no idea what’s around the corner. Despite this, if we are able to fight these natural feelings of doubt and fear and get comfortable being uncomfortable and attempting to navigate this strange and unknown path, we’ll put ourselves back in the driver’s seat of our growth and path to success.