At no point would an athlete training for a podium finish say, “I’m happy with this level” and stop pushing to beat their next personal best. There is no such thing as a level where they feel they’ve mastered things and are comfortable. Not only is that counterproductive given that their competitors are still pushing the boundaries to win, but it’s also a waste of an opportunity to see just what they are capable of. This is what growth is all about: Moving past what’s comfortable and learning new things, equipping ourselves with even more strength and skill to rise to the top and see success.
Just like any athlete looking to clinch the gold, you also have a comfort zone in your business you need to move out of in order to reach the growth zone and become even more successful. Remaining in your comfort zone isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re not happy with your business’ performance or you're feeling stuck, it’s time to move forward, or else you risk plateauing and compromising your business success.
Moving into the growth zone is an important step forward, but only if you’re ready and there’s nothing holding you back.
More often than not, it’s business owners who are holding their businesses back from entering into the growth zone. No matter how much potential they have to be truly great, if they are not ready for growth mentally or in terms of their business set-up and materials, the brakes will be applied because the risks seem to be too big. It’s an understandable fear but there are definitely ways to overcome it.
In order to emerge from the comfort zone and into the growth zone, you need concrete, actionable strategies that can help overcome your reluctance. Actionable steps are more than just vague motivational instructions to “dig deeper” or “understand your purpose”, these are tangible steps to take and go in a specific direction.
A great byproduct of moving away from your comfort zone and in the learning and growth zones is that your comfort zone actually expands. You learn new things and therefore master them and they become skills you can fall back on too. Something that would have scared you a year ago may be something you’re adept at now, but only because you challenged yourself and accomplished something you never thought possible. This gives you an edge over business owners who are not growing.
To embrace a growth mindset, you need to be prepared to face risk and fear as well as agree to learning even more in order to move forward. Staying small is fine if you’re happy, but if not, what are you going to do about it? It’s not just going to happen to you, so you need to put in the work.
According to Positive Psychology, the comfort zone is where a person’s behavioural state is “anxiety-neutral”. You can get a predictable result using a limited set of behaviours without having to face many risks, if any. While the risks are limited, so are the rewards, even so, there’s not much incentive to move away from it. The growth zone, on the other hand, is where you can set new goals, live your dreams and self-actualise. There will be a learning stage, which goes hand in hand with making mistakes and the risks are greater, but if you can overcome them, the rewards are significantly bigger.
In your comfort zone, you don’t necessarily feel challenged by your work. You take it easy, complete things leisurely, and you don’t feel the need to change your routine because you don’t want the headache or the panic of having to learn new things. In the growth zone, you may feel the opposite.
Even though you may struggle to wrap your head around new challenges, getting through these trials is what makes the growth zone work. It is necessary that you face new challenges head-on rather than avoid change in order to learn and grow as a person and as a business owner.
It starts by addressing where you are and where you want to be. When you figure out what habits and routines you’re falling back on every day to make things easier and more comfortable, you can start to formulate a plan for how to change your habits as a business owner and adopt new ones for better performance and results.
Finding what makes your day-to-day comfortable will help you figure out what you need to change in order to find new ways to learn and grow.
Where do you start looking to determine what’s keeping you from growing? Inside. You can look at finances, processes and stock later, but right now, it’s all in your head. Like I said, more often than not, it’s business owners who are holding their businesses back, you need to look internally first to figure out your mindset. Do you really believe you are capable and worthy of success? If there is any shadow of doubt in your belief in your ability or your self-worth, it’s going to stop you from pressing forward
There are times where you may feel like you’re self-sabotaging in order to avoid being uncomfortable and entering into a place where you’re unsure of yourself and your actions. This is normal. To get to the growth zone, you have to move past the fear zone and the learning zone, and both can be daunting because having to deal with anxieties, overcome mistakes (how embarrassing) and learn new things can be frustrating and frightening.
Even though it doesn’t feel like it, staying in the comfort zone long-term is the biggest risk you can take with your business. Even though you might see predictable results, it’s not the same as ongoing growth and you risk levelling out on a plateau and stopping yourself from learning new things.
The longer you stay in the comfort zone, the riskier it seems to move away and you doubt your ability to handle what comes next. In order to get unstuck, go back to your Why, it’s one thing that I tell my coaching clients to do: keep that Why front of mind to help make you feel less anxious about moving forward. The other thing to do is hold tight to the rewards, there are plenty of them. When you can outweigh the reward to the risk it makes it easier to convince yourself to get moving, take action.
Moving out of your comfort zone is scary, but it comes with a load of benefits that will equip you to handle adversity, see things with more flexibility and become a more successful business owner.
Here are just some of the big benefits coming your way in the growth zone:
These things come from moving away from what’s comfortable and towards what can make you a better, stronger business owner.
In order to start getting out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself forward, follow these five steps to get from where you are to where you want to be.
Start by shaking up your usual routine. Challenge yourself to build new ones that are focused on change and success. Take a different route or transport method to work, who knows, you might find a faster or cheaper way to get there.
You need to build a daily routine to succeed, but not just any old routine, one that is geared to keep you ahead. By changing things up and experimenting with different ways to work you can set up a routine that keeps your efficiency and productivity high and gives you access to that elusive work/life balance.
As well as that you’ll get to see things from a different perspective and help you move in different ways, ways that aren’t exactly comfortable all the time. Comfort is a big part of having a routine, so changing it up can bring about new ideas and a new mindset.
Altering small things like how long you get ready or making big changes like putting away social media for the majority of the day can help you be more deliberate with your actions and decisions and even discover new ideas or goals.
Expanding your circle and finding new people from different businesses or industries can bring new viewpoints and learning opportunities. As well as great networking, new contacts can also become potential partners or even help with advice on where to take your business. Paying attention to other successful business routines, even from different industries, can give you some ideas on how you can tweak your own daily routine and get better results.
Your network isn’t limited to people either, there are plenty of ways to tap into mentors and other points of view through expanding what you read and what Youtube channels and podcasts you follow. Read new books or articles outside of your interests to challenge your values and beliefs or maybe see them in a new light. Our beliefs can get pretty bogged in sometimes and they aren’t always healthy or correct, so shaking your beliefs up can be a great way to see what sticks and what you can shed for new and more empowering ones.
Constantly telling yourself from a young age that you aren’t capable of pushing past a certain point can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Refuting it just once won’t change that either, you need to keep the pressure up and prove yourself wrong, so don’t give up on it after just a few tries, give that growth zone another push.
Finding a new skill, or developing one you already have but feel you can be better at, can be the first step to full-time growth. Baby steps are important so make your action steps achievable and realistic as you upskill yourself and find new things you can master to move you out of your comfort zone.
The skills you work on might be business-related, like public speaking, writing your newsletters more eloquently, or even working on soft skills with your employee relationships, or might be more on a personal level; learning to play an instrument, cooking new foods or mastering a different language.
Not only will growing your skillset bring about good change, but you also increase your confidence, resilience and your satisfaction with your day-to-day since you can accomplish a larger variety of tasks.
There is a deeper science at play when it comes to internalising your growth mindset and making positive changes stick: it’s called neuroplasticity and it’s a game-changer.
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain and the neurons to adapt when it comes to different experiences. It’s when neurons and connections are activated depending on the circumstances. Interactions with our environment help the brain make changes to neural pathways to make us better at rewiring ourselves.
Neuroplasticity allows and encourages you to learn new things because it will activate the neurons and make it easier for you to retain information. Because neuroplasticity is an ongoing process, the connections in our brain and the physiological changes we feel are results of continued information processing that reorganise, depending on our changing needs.
Where some connections in the brain are discarded because they’re no longer in use, they can still be activated with enough stimulation from your environment, which is why you’ll never forget how to ride a bike, even if you don’t sit on one for 20 years. Taking that first step towards something new isn’t as scary when you know that your brain can still reorganise previous attempts and accommodate the change.
What if you are still stuck in a stagnant zone? If all you can see are problems and risks, you might really struggle to find the internal motivation to overcome your anxiety and move away from the familiar. What you need is someone outside your bubble to help show you some options, opportunities and pathways you can’t see from inside. That’s where a good business coach comes in. They can be your cheer squad and that voice of encouragement you might be missing internally but also the much-needed voice outside your bubble of trouble, who can see the way out clearly and provide you with the right amount of push in a positive direction.
Hiring a business coach can make all the difference, especially if you’re still uncertain about the new path you want to take. If you don’t trust your own decisions, a business coach can back you up and reassure you of your choices and remind you of your goals. Their job is to look out for you and support you and, of all people, they’re best-qualified to guide you because they’ve walked the walk themselves. More than just a guide, they’re your pillar, especially when you feel afraid and uncomfortable.
What if things go wrong? This is the risk we face in the growth zone, that something will fall over. Personally, I get a bit excited now when things don’t go to plan because it means bigger growth and bigger learning and an even better reward when you rebuild it back up again. Resilience is the art of picking yourself up, dusting off the rubble and moving on, and that’s where a business coach can help you out as well; by staying calm and steering you back to a productive path, you can get through challenges quickly and more easily, without the emotional turmoil.
Moving away from your comfort zone can be daunting but it’s necessary in order to become a better business owner. You can ease that anxiety by surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who may be going through the same thing, and getting someone you trust from outside your bubble to act as your guide. Join our group of business owners at The Business Evolution and be part of the conversation towards growth and success.
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