What happens to a fish out of water?
My grandmother took me fishing several times when I was a little girl. She taught me how to hook the worm, cast the reel, and wait patiently in silence until I felt a little “bobbing” of my rod. I remember the first time that I caught a fish… It was… emotional.
I was so excited that I finally caught something! I remember jumping up and down while screaming, “I got one! I got one!” We had waited sooooooo long for this moment.
However, when I pulled my prize out of the water… it did something that I wasn’t expecting.
My new prize… the fish… started flailing on the ground. It was literally freaking out and I started screaming for help. My grandmother put her foot on the fish, removed the bloody hook, and threw him in a cooler. She was so proud of me, but I felt… confused. All of my joy quickly faded as I rushed over to check on the fish. It was still moving around, but not near as much as before. I gazed until the fish calmed down…
… until it died.
Being out of your comfort zone can feel a lot like flailing on the ground. The difference between you and a flailing fish? You can catch your breath and establish the new found territory as YOURS.
Don’t let yourself be thrown into a cooler to die.
The reality is that being outside of your comfort zone is good. It forces you to utilize skills that you don’t often think about and with time… your comfort zone literally expands into the new space.
A Podcast Conference = NOT in my comfort zone
I attended a podcast conference with my husband and business partners last week. I am the only one out of the four us without a podcast, but I went anyways. I love listening to podcasts and I wanted to be there to support my business partners in a new venture. Plus, my husband was going to be mentoring some newbies.
The greeter on the first day reads my name tag… “So, Amanda Lairsey… what is your podcast about?”
“I don’t have a podcast.”
“OH! FUN! You’re a newbie! Well, what do you want your podcast to be about?”
I shrug my shoulders, clear my throat, and give an awkward grin while responding, “I don’t want to start a podcast of my own at this time. I’m here to support my husband and assist my business partners this weekend.”
The look of disapproval had me wanting to turn around and go back to my hotel room, but I followed suit into the conference room with my husband.
Hours go by and I’ve had the same conversation with at least fifteen people. I contemplate making up a fake-podcast idea just so that I don’t have to go through the disapproval look phase again, but quickly realize that it will be followed by questions that I can’t possibly answer.
Out of my comfort zone = I started flailing.
Not only were there few women at this conference, but I determined that I was literally the only person in attendance with no intention of starting a podcast. I really had no business being in Orlando. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Ughhhhh. (Hind sight – this is not entirely true, but its how I felt in the moment.)
This wasn’t my first time flailing.
When my husband and I moved to Florida in 2011, I flailed a lot. New city. New job. New marriage. New people. New roads. New everything. Then, we moved to Tennessee. More flailing.
However… the flailing didn’t last as long in Tennessee because I got comfortable…faster. The difference? I pursued friendships, joined a church, and sought out people that were like-minded.
Remove your own hook and fight back.
The reality is that I could have spent my entire trip sulking with the “I don’t fit in here” mode. Instead, I embraced what I’d learned from previous flailing moments.
You see… I knew that I needed to connect with other people in order to get IN my comfort zone. I also knew that if I wanted to make an impact on those around me, then I had to put my true self out there. Believe me when I say… making that post was not easy. I typed it and deleted it at least five times before hitting “publish.” Once I posted it… my stomach started turning. BUT. I knew it was a necessary step if I wanted to connect.
It only takes ONE step to enter the fight.
Just like my Facebook post, you only need to take that one uncomfortable first step towards your dream. The first step is the hardest. Once you start walking… everything else becomes so much easier. For example, once I made that Facebook post in a podcaster’s group … my confidence started growing. With each response… my confidence grew even more. Within a few hours, I started tapping strangers on the shoulder and inviting them to my 5 O’clock coffee meetup in the lobby!! WHAT?!?!
Just take the first step. The rest will be easy.
By the time the podcasting conference was over… I made approximately 22 new friends. My comfort zone then consisted of a bunch of podcasters. Weird, right?
I know that stepping out of your comfort zone is scary, but friend… it is necessary! You’ve been contemplating that big jump for a while. Don’t let fear stop you. Yes, you will be uncomfortable for a while… but the end results are worth it.
I’m here to tell you to JUMP!!!!