Life outside your comfort zone

July 16th, 2019

comfort zone
Photo by D O M I N I K J P W on Unsplash

Ever feel like you’re planted right smack dab in the middle of your comfort zone and can’t move? Is there something you’ve done outside of your comfort zone that flared up the ole’ fear? 

If you’re anything like me, or anything like most of the people who hang out in these parts, you probably spend a pretty good chunk of time hanging out inside your comfort zone. 

Maybe on occasion — or maybe even on a regular basis — you dip your toe in your risk zone. It’s uncomfortable, but you know you’re gonna be ok. 

And then there’s your danger zone — the zone you likely avoid going into, and if you go you’re not sure you’ll make it out alive. 

I talk about this OFTEN in The Speaker’s Playground, with my 1:1 clients and when I speak

But the truth is, it’s way easier to talk about it than to actually do it.

In fact talking about going outside your comfort zone is pretty darn comfortable compared to actually going out side your comfort zone! 

Recently, I was at the NSA Colorado (National Speakers Association) end-of-year party, and they had an improv contest for members. 

Here’s how it went: If you raise your hand to play you get a random title picked from a jar, a random set of slides, and you have to give an impromptu 3-minute talk as the slides (that you haven’t seen yet) advance. 

I love speaking from the stage, and I actually came from a world of improv — but dance improv not theater improv.  

Improvisational dance is EASY. Coming up with words to say?  HARD! 

Plus these are the pro speakers. These are the big kids. A lot of these folks are the ones making big bucks for speaking from the stage. (Total transparency — that’s not me. YET!

The little girl part of me wanted to be amazing so they would all say “She’s amazing!” 

When I signed in to the event, the registrar invited me to put my name in the hat. At that precise moment I felt a strong impulse to run.

“Maybe I’ll just watch this year and put my name in next year” I thought. “It would be good to scope the scene and first see how everyone else does.”

“What if I bomb? I might suck. Maybe I’ll go blank, and won’t be able to think of words to say. What if I humiliate myself? What if I’m not funny? What if everyone think’s ‘That’s strange. What’s she doing here?’” 

Then I thought, “You gotta walk your talk Johanna. You gotta get uncomfortable and risk bombing. You gotta put your name in.” 

Truth is, I didn’t gotta (you never gotta)
but I did choose to.
I put my name in the hat. 

I was nervous. And excited. Scared-cited, you could say. The best thing to be. 

The mysterious random jar picked my name!

The title that came out of the hat for me was “Life is a Fortune Cookie” 

I did ok and didn’t die. In fact I did pretty great. I thought of words. Even some funny ones. And some smart ones. I even made some sentences out of them, and, as it turns out, had a blast. 

I didn’t win.

At least I didn’t win the contest, but would it be too cheesy to say I won me? 

The thing that happens when you step outside your comfort zone is — not just in theory but in actuality — you get a little bit more of yourself.

The part that’s hiding and playing it safe? She comes out into the room, and once she’s out, she’s more likely to stay. 

The bonus is, when you go back to your comfort zone, your comfort zone is a little big bigger. There’s a little more space there. A little more room to try stuff. Maybe you’ve got even a little more room to fail so you’re not so scared of failing the next time, and you put your name in the hat without hesitation.

Your turn! What have you done recently that put you outside your comfort zone?

Leave a comment and let me know! I love to hear your stories!

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