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Stepping Out

It seems the longer we are in business, the more at ease we have gotten in our comfort zones, which have narrowed over the years. Have you found that you tend to gravitate to situations where you feel completely in control? Do you find yourself putting off tasks that make you the slightest bit uncomfortable? Can you rationalize why you do not do certain things that you know would help your business to grow?

STEPPING OUT

"I don't like to be out of my comfort zone, which is about one-half inch wide."
—Larry David, comedian and producer

BY FRAN CARVILLE, CRM, CARCO AWARDS/CARCOAWARDS.COM

(Originally published in the December 2017 issue of Insights.)

It seems the longer we are in business, the more at ease we have gotten in our comfort zones, which have narrowed over the years. Have you found that you tend to gravitate to situations where you feel completely in control? Do you find yourself putting off tasks that make you the slightest bit uncomfortable? Can you rationalize why you do not do certain things that you know would help your business to grow?

Occasionally, we find ourselves temporarily forced to leave our comfort zones, maybe to deal with an irate customer or an employee issue. But as quickly as possible, we run back to the “zone.” Maybe your comfort zone is sitting in front of computers rather than standing in front of a room filled with potential customers. Maybe your comfort zone is building trophies rather than developing a new budget. Or maybe your comfort zone is simply maintaining the status quo rather than trying something new that might rock the boat.

"No one likes to move beyond their comfort zone, but as the saying goes, that's where the magic happens. It's where we can grow, learn, and develop..."
—Andy Molinsky, professor, author, and speaker

In the workplace, your comfort zone is a safe place to spend your day. But getting too comfortable can keep you from achieving a lot that could be beneficial to you and your business. There is nothing wrong with playing it safe, just as long as you are 100% satisfied with every single aspect of your business. Easier, to be sure, but that is not the way to start moving forward or growing your company in ways that matter. Like it or not, it is high time to consider STEPPING OUT of your comfort zone.

"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new."
—Brian Tracy, business and sales consultant

When I first read this quote, I thought he must be speaking directly to me because so many things that are business related are outside of my comfort zone. Dealing with employee issues. Networking in new environments. Speaking in public. Making cold calls. Contacting past due accounts. Learning a new computer program.

How much time do you have? Because that’s just scratching the surface of things outside of my comfort zone. But luckily for you and me, three of our fellow Awards and Personalization Association members have great advice to help overcome the fear of Stepping Out.

"All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone."
—Tony Robbins, author and self-help guru

Lisa Higginbotham, CRS, of 5Star Awards, Inc., in North Carolina describes her comfort zone as "being the wizard behind the curtain, creating beautiful awards and playing with cool toys."

But Lisa realized she needed to step outside of her normal sphere. She knew that staying in her comfort zone "would not help the phone ring." So, she stepped out. "I have learned that businesses want to meet the key people, such as the business owner, and that meant I would have to stand in front of a crowd. Once I started networking and being visible, we started growing." Higginbotham took the time and made a conscience effort to step outside of her comfort zone, and her business has reaped the benefits!

"If we are growing we are always going to be outside our comfort zone."
—John C. Maxwell, author, speaker, and pastor

Sam Varn, CRM, of Awards4U and National Awards4U in Florida shares that as a start-up in the late 1980s, "I was doing everything... sales, some production, bookkeeping, janitorial service." Sound familiar? Varn made the decision to step out of his comfort zone and hired an artist, as well as bringing his wife, Nancy, into the business. According to Varn, "hiring both would almost double the payroll and although sales were growing, it wasn't at that pace." Did leaving his comfort zone pay off for Varn's company? He made sure that it did by having a good plan. "While Nancy was successfully minding the store, I would go out and sell. By year's end, we had doubled our sales and never looked back. In January 1989, we bought out our first competitor and doubled our sales again. We were on our way!" Anyone who knows Varn understands his willingness to continue to grow his business by being outside of his comfort zone.

"Do one thing every day that scares you."
—Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States

Sherry Grabill of AwardsMart in Texas had a successful career outside of the awards industry before becoming an active part of her business. She said, "I had never sold anything in my life, so I was a little hesitant in asking the customer for additional business." But by stepping out of her comfort zone, Grabill quickly realized that "the customer was coming to us for advice (and) help in selecting an award. In other words, we were viewed as the experts." Grabill could have been intimidated by this realization, but instead she started to focus on the customers. Grabill said that she committed to doing much more than just taking orders by "learning to listen to more about the customer, finding out about events in their lives and determining how I could better serve them." Grabill "listened and watched, (and) asked questions about how they were selected to oversee a project, as well as what else they might be involved in. We help customers navigate our website and offer catalogs that allow them to peruse our products for other projects."

Rather than just being satisfied with taking orders, Grabill took the bold step to ensure she was giving superior customer service while building a valuable relationship with each customer. Thank you, Sherry, for sharing; I am taking this advice to grow!

"No one likes to move beyond their comfort zone, but as the saying goes, that's where the magic happens. It's where we can grow, learn, and develop in a way that expands our horizons beyond what we thought was possible."
—Andy Molinsky, professor, author, and speaker

Stepping out of our comfort zones does not have to be done in giant leaps. There is nothing wrong with taking baby steps to leave your zone. So, what are some baby steps that you can start taking today to help find the magic in your business?

  1. Identify what could most help your business today and in the future if you stepped out of your comfort zone.
  2. Make a list of baby steps that you can take to move forward. Do NOT spend a year working on this list. Spend 1 week at the most and then stop writing and start doing.
  3. The first thing every morning, "eat the frog." In other words, move forward in some way to step out of your comfort zone. Don't find excuses to stay in the zone.
  4. Give yourself positive reinforcement. Instead of looking at the negative ("I made three sales calls and didn't get one order"), focus on the positive ("I met three potential new customers today and will follow up with each".
  5. Track your progress. Haven't made any progress lately? Hmmm... go back to steps 1 through 4 and Step Out—TODAY!

Fran Carville, CRM, is an Awards and Personalization Association past president, educational speaker, 2008 Speaker of the Year, a member of the Hall of Fame, and winner of an Award of Excellence from the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Fran and her husband, Tom Carville, CRM, own Carco Awards in Baton Rouge, LA.

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