Have you been in the stretch zone today?
Will Rogers once said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Life is not about being comfortable. God doesn’t want us to be comfortable. He wants us to be learning and growing everyday. He doesn’t want us to be satisfied with the status quo. What if the apostle Paul had been satisfied with converting a few Jews in Judah? If you are sitting still, you are falling behind. Those of us who are satisfied with the status quo will become yesterday’s news. You have to leave your comfort zone every day to be successful.
Getting hit by a train may not be fatal, but it can put you or a Fortune 500 company in the ICU for years. When I had speaking engagements in the mid- to late-90’s I mentioned 18 companies listed in the iconic business classic, “In Search of Excellence.” I described what happened when they sat still. From the late 80’s to the mid-90’s IBM and Digital, two of the stars in the book, were having massive layoffs. They had gotten cocky when they were held up as paragons of perfection to the rest of the business world. You know the story; after laying off hundreds of thousands of employees, IBM heeded their wake-up call and did what they had to do to become a strong business again. Digital didn’t. Compaq gobbled them up, and then Compaq succumbed to HP. Hewlett Packard, by the way, was another company featured in the list. So was Delta Air Lines.
My stretch zone experience.
The farthest I was ever out of my comfort zone professionally was on the day of the 2000 presidential election – the day Bush and Gore tied. That was the day I auditioned to be a senior training consultant for Richardson, a sales training and consulting company based in Philadelphia. I had learned of the position by networking with a friend in ASTD, an association of professional trainers.
After I passed two telephone interviews, they sent their flagship book, “Stop Telling, Start Selling,” to me. They instructed me to become thoroughly familiar with the book before my interview. The interview would consist of a traditional interview with the COO, and then she would give me a training module I had never seen before. I’d have 45 minutes to learn the material, and then I would present the module to the COO and CEO.
I guarantee you I wanted to bail out as soon as I heard that. Wave after wave of self-doubt raced through my mind. My sleep was interrupted immediately. I pressed on, studying the material and rehearsing in my mind despite these visions of “freezing” during the audition.
They flew me to Philadelphia the day before Election Day. I hunkered down in my hotel room and tried to review the material. My mouth was so dry my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. I can tell you with certainty that I had the worst night of sleep in my life due to professional stress. I managed two hours of sleep during the six I was in bed. Thoughts of being so tired I’d be incoherent during the audition faded in and out of view. I wasn’t sure if I could hold my breakfast down the next morning.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
– 2 Timothy 1.7
I’d like to tell you that I prayed my way through this; I simply don’t remember whether I did or not. It’s very likely that I repeated one of my affirmations, “I put everything in God’s hands. I ask for the ability to do my best, and I confidently leave the results to God.” I do know this: God was with me and I was at my best. I was encouraged when Linda, the CEO, remarked after looking at my resume and hearing my self-introduction, “If you don’t like all the travel that goes with this training and consulting job, we could put you on our sales team.”
Now it was time for the audition. Linda asked for me to pretend that she and Dorothy represented two-dozen managing directors from Goldman Sachs, which was one of their key customers. (GS is nowhere to be found on their website these days.) I presented the objection resolution module, which is a key differentiator for them. I knew that interaction was very important to them, so I engaged them as much as I could.
At one point Linda interrupted the action and gave me some feedback – both strengths and areas for improvement – and I immediately incorporated the concepts into my facilitation of the module. Before I knew it Linda interrupted again, gave me more feedback, said a hasty goodbye and left the room. My heart sank to the floor as the door to the conference room door closed behind her.
Dorothy, the COO, slapped her hand on the table and said, “Oh she loved you!” I said, “That was love?” Dorothy said they had interviewed a thousand potential trainers over the past 20 years and hired only three-dozen. Without consulting Linda, she offered me the job and began discussing my training schedule.
Would I go through that misery again? You bet. It was very rewarding to work for Richardson. I traveled as far as Hartford, the Florida Keys, San Diego and Seattle, and many points in between. I trained 2000 sales reps at Dell and over 1000 more at companies like KPMG Consulting, Bank of America, Sears, GlaxoSmithKline and Prudential Bank.
At Richardson, I developed skills and built self-confidence that I will use the rest of my life. Now that I’ve moved on, I use those experiences every day in my career coaching business. I left my comfort zone and reaped great rewards.
God wants you to get out of your comfort zone. He wants you to learn and grow. He wants you to try new things. Here are three steps to help you get yourself out of your comfort zone; if you do number one and two, number three is much easier:
1. Pray and read your Bible.
Vocalize your feelings to God. Ask Him for the strength and confidence to overcome those terrifying feelings of anxiety. Find scriptures that encourage you. Many of the great characters in the Bible (e.g. Moses and Jeremiah) didn’t want to answer God’s call. He persuaded them and look what happened. God didn’t give us a spirit of timidity – He gives us a spirit of power and love and self-discipline. God is calling you to greater things. Answer his call!
2. Use affirmations and visualization.
I believe in was baseball great Curt Schilling who said used visualization to improve his performance before he pitched in the 2004 World Series. Other athletes use affirmations to improve theirs. Picture success. Think positive. I created 20 biblically based affirmations several years ago and used them frequently in my job search. I mentioned one up above. To see the whole list, click here »
3. Just do it.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Take small steps. Learn to walk before you run. Practice your skills at the JobSeekers meetings. Practice with a friend. Hire a coach. Then do it. I read somewhere that 85% of what we worry about never happens. Friends, when you leave your comfort zone good things happen!
What I want you to get out of this is that you reap what you sow. No risk = no reward. Small risk = small reward. Big risk = big reward. Stay in your comfort zone and use online job boards = long job search. Get in the stretch zone and go out and network = shorter job search. You choose.
Come to JobSeekers this Friday, where we get into the stretch zone every week.
Copyright © 2016 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved