Michael Boyette from the Rapid Learning Institute and The Top Sales Dog blog reached out to me last week, and I am so glad that he did! He is giving me the incredible opportunity to post content on his website, and wanted to contribute to Sell Lead Succeed! as well. I love his take on the “Discomfort Zone”. Initially it looks like a place we would not want to be, but upon further evaluation, it is very clear that we all need to take a leap of faith and “get uncomfortable”. Enjoy!
Your sales career is “doing okay.” You’re in the groove and your boss isn’t tormenting you. But something is missing. You know you can do better. Fact is, it may take a lot more than you think to get to that next level. Top sales achievers understand this, and recognize that growth comes only by setting stretch goals. And that the rewards come after the risk, not before. In order to sell, lead, and succeed, you must first escape your personal comfort zone.
Strategies for Escaping Your Comfort Zone
1. Commit to your vision of where you want to be
People change only when the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of changing. So the only way to escape a comfort zone is to feel discontent with it. The first step: daydream. All meaningful, lasting change begins by fantasizing about where you really want to be (i.e., not in this comfort zone). If you vividly imagine yourself busting through sales barriers, being excellent rather that just average, eventually that picture makes its way into reality. When it does, the old comfort zone is unacceptable and we feel the need to change it. That compelling urge to change is what drives us to do things that make us uncomfortable, but lead to the rewards we want.
2. Write down what you need to do
When it’s on paper, with quantifiable tasks and deadlines, you make it urgent. Writing things down is the best antidote for procrastination, which is a defense mechanism that keeps us in our comfort zones.
Example: By the end of next week, I will make 50 cold calls in the new market, and set up five sales calls that will lead to one sale.
3. Recognize – and resist – the urge to crawl back to the comfort zone
Entering a discomfort zone is stressful. At the first sign of failure our impulse is to return to where we never fail. You’re going to feel that way. Expect it and resist it.
4. Just do it
Fear dissolves through participation. Think of bungee jumping. Most people are terrified of it, can’t sleep the night before, break out into a cold sweat when the ropes are tied to their feet. For many, it’s utter agony. They then jump and the fear is over. All they feel is the intoxicating high of having broken through a personal barrier.
The same is true of public speaking. How many times have you seen speakers who seemed nervous at first – which means that deep inside they were terrified – but became increasingly confident? We all overcome fear by doing.
5. Don’t fall into a new comfort zone
So you’ve broken through that first barrier; now you can relax, right? No. High achievers use their comfort zone to rest in, not to live in.
In the early 1990s Bill Gates was the richest man in America and Microsoft Windows had established itself as the dominant operating system. Gates could have become complacent. But he didn’t. He lived in utter paranoia that networking would put Windows out of business. By 1995 he was convinced that the Internet could destroy everything he’d built. Gates’ refusal to retreat into a comfort zone explains why Microsoft still dominates the software market, and the Internet, today.
A Final Thought
Successful sales leaders and entrepreneurs are not necessarily more competent, but they do look for ways to grow and stretch. They willingly expose themselves to new things by venturing into their own personal discomfort zone.
Michael Boyette is the executive editor of http://rapidlearninginstitute.com Rapid Learning Institute’s Selling Essentials elearning site and editor of the http://rapidlearninginstitute.com/top-sales-dog Top Sales Dog Blog. He’s also managed marketing and PR programs for DuPont, Tyco Electronics, and US Healthcare. Connect with Michael via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @TopSalesDog