Out Of Your Comfort Zone
A speaker who goes off script? Talk about moving out of your comfort zone in a hurry. I remember so vividly the first time I dared to do this. But you have to veer off the planned route from time to time if you expect to grow and own your awesome, right? It’s tough to remember the actual day when you decided it was the best time to step outside your comfort zone.
I do remember that in my old comfort zone I was quite shy and uncertain. And when it was over and I had stepped well and truly out of it, I was an accomplished professional speaker ready to customize speeches and go off script without warning, confident in my subject knowledge, and totally at ease with large groups of people all over the world.
For me, the process may have started the day I had my first speaking engagement with a new speakers’ bureau, one that I had worked diligently to build a relationship with and be represented by. This particular bureau had agreed to become an agent for me and this first booking was my opportunity to prove that I was skilled, marketable and worth their team’s effort to get me more bookings in the future.
The speaking engagement was a conference for human resource professionals with 600 professionals in attendance from all over the region. I was hired to speak on my concept of work/life balance and the impact it can have on our leadership journey. I was well researched and prepared. I had the entire speech carefully crafted and scripted from start to finish.
All of my material was well branded and I even color-coordinated my outfit to match my PowerPoint presentation. (It still makes me smile thinking about that). I left nothing to chance as this was not only my moment to shine, but also to have a future team of sales representatives working to get me booked for future speaking engagements, which was considered a huge win for my speaking career. That day I took the stage and greeted the audience. About 10 minutes into my presentation, an unfamiliar feeling washed over me. At first I couldn’t identify the feeling and just chalked it up to nerves. I kept going with my talk, but the feeling got stronger.Ten more minutes went by and the feeling became clearer; my intuition was screaming at me to change the course of my speech.
My thoughts were wrestling in my head. Has that every happened to you? I was thinking to myself, “Should I or shouldn’t I change my script? ” Either my psyche was sending me on the greatest sabotage mission of my career or it was trying to save me. Keep in mind that I was in my solid comfort zone with a prepared and practiced speech. To leave that spot would take me to a level of discomfort that I could hardly stand. Not only was I contemplating stepping outside my comfort zone, but I was planning to do it in front of a room full of people.
But my instinct won. I put down my slide advancer and left my carefully choreographed presentation to share an entirely different one. My voice shook slightly at first, as did my hands, and then I took off in a totally new direction with my audience that day.I left my comfort zone and boldly committed to following my instinct. Happily, what followed was one of the most engaging keynotes of my career. Normally a speaker can measure a performance by a standing ovation, the number of books sold, or the number of people wanting to connect after an event is over. On that day I was shocked to discover about 60 people lined up waiting to tell me how my presentation had touched them and how I had identified with their situation.
In my own vulnerability and place of discomfort, I was able to resonate and connect with the audience. I often wonder how life would have stayed the same if I hadn’t followed my intuition that day. I think what I had prepared would have been satisfactory, but because I was willing to be bold and stretch myself, I was able to reach the wow factor. There is something to be said for being prepared, and I would never suggest that you ever enter a professional engagement unprepared. But there is also something to be said for being open to possibilities.
The feeling of personal and professional growth I had that day was tremendous when I stepped outside of my comfort zone. I recognized that I had to push myself to feel uncomfortable more often if I wanted to continue to grow. You will know in your own life when it is time to extend yourself beyond your current safety perimeters and move into the fear zone. Once you go there, you will discover new dimensions and your mind will never shrink back into where it was before.
When is that best time to leave your comfort zone? It is now. Go the extra mile, push your limits and see if you can find a better solution. Challenge your thinking and grow your knowledge.
Paula Morand, CSP is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and bold impact. 23 years, 25,000 clients, 19 countries, 11 books, former radio personality, 10x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
To check out Paula’s book, “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything” go to Amazon http://ow.ly/i8yW307ix67
To book Paula to speak email firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free 1-888-502-6317.