No one likes to feel uncomfortable. That’s why it’s referred to as such. Most people are interested in remaining in their comfort zone while a few brave souls enjoy venturing out ever so often. Growing the realms of your comfort zone can bring you much excitement and success, especially if you utilize a Positive Mental Attitude (for a better understanding or just to increase your chances of being successful, read Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill). The benefits of venturing outside of your comfort zone includes enjoying a range of experiences, adventurous activities and expansion of your skill sets. Once you have built the courage to push the limits of your comfort zone and maintain that momentum, you will be unstoppable.
Here’s a personal example of a time where I felt extremely uncomfortable, borderline incompetent, and how I changed my attitude to maximize my growth, both personally and professionally.
On May 7th, 2014, I attended a networking event with my Project Manager. The event took place at Princeton University and it was called the “CEO Forum: The Four Key Drivers of Growth”. I knew that at this event, I would meet many important CEOs of different companies. I was ecstatic! I knew that this would be a great chance for me to not only expand my network and gain more experience, but also my develop my knowledge on how to run a business! I thought of all the great possibilities and inspirational people I would meet; I bubbled over with excitement the night before.
As enthusiastic as I was, I knew that this would be a difficult challenge to network with so many influential people, in the hopes of impressing them enough to secure a meeting. However I never expected that we would be at such a disadvantage! When we arrived at the event from a two hour commute, I was sleep deprived and sluggish. Immediately after entering the facility and approaching the registration table, I noticed everyone in the hallway was significantly older and all dressed in suits. I looked back at myself and my Project Manager. I wore a blouse with high waisted black pants while my Project Manager, dressed as casual as ever, a burgundy hoodie and faded black jeans. I felt so embarrassed at how underdressed we were but more importantly, how unprepared I felt.
I worked to maintain my composure as much as I could but inside, I was terrified! I could sense deep down that these were very important people. They were not the small business owners I was accustomed to meeting; I knew that this was a big opportunity for me however I knew I wasn’t ready for this! I grabbed some coffee and breakfast treats to calm my nerves and to wake myself up. It was game time and I had to step up on the plate!
As the presentation started, I grabbed a seat in front, extremely close to the speaker, to ensure that I would pay as much attention as possible. I took notes and outlines; I struggled trying to understand his jargons and simplify his business plan as best I could. The information overflowed my brain, from topics of cornerstones on how to grow a business to merging scalable businesses to projections of 5, 20, to 250 million dollars of business value!!
I’ve always thought large amounts of money couldn’t impress me but to think of all the risks that he, his family, and company had to take in order to grow this business, my mind experienced a major explosion of catastrophe proportion trying to wrap my mind around the entire thing!! Here I knew that businesses were making these kinds of transactions but to see it planned out and discussed by someone who had actually did it themselves made it all the more tangible yet still very surreal.
What made the deepest impression on me was not the growth of his company or how much I couldn’t keep up with the presentation but the sincerity and integrity in his voice. As he discussed his experience of growing his business, fathering it really, to later selling it, he admitted that he saw that his company would not do so well after his departure. Because of his personal morals and values, he remained a part of the company to ensure it’s prosperity without compensation, which I found incredibility astonishing! Here is a guy that made millions and I mean, milllllllllions after his paid out. After all the work he put in, he could have easily walked away and never look back. However, he stayed to help because he knew it was the right thing to do. That simple (okay, maybe not so simple) act showed me that there are very remarkable people in the corporate world. It is people like him that are so inspiring, not so much because they were successful or a pioneer in their field, no. It is because they worked extremely hard and were incredibility successful, while still maintaining their core character and integrity.
In summary, attending this event felt equivalent to me striking out with the most appealing guy in school or flunking a major exam: humiliating, crippling and definitely a confidence destroyer. However, what I took from it wasn’t so much what I had done wrong (even though it helped me discovered it) but what I have yet to do right! I know now that I desperately need to study more on the infrastructure of businesses, prepare more for networking events, and build my confidence so that when I do meet CEOs of Fortune 500 companies I know what to do. I need to learn how to talk to them and what to talk about. I understand now what to strive for and have a clear direction of how successful I want to become one day.
You see, it’s all about your attitude!
Sure, I could have gone home, cry about how I blew my chances of networking with these wildly successful people but instead, I jot down everything I knew I had to do, in order to get on their level of success, and noted what I need to work towards. I hope that reading this could help you do the same and encourage you to appreciate the moments that make you feel the most uncomfortable and utilize it to propel you to achieve greatness.
Inspired by Napoleon Hill’s Success Through A Mental Attitude, my experience at the “CEO Forum”, my Project Manager, and past adventures venturing outside my comfort zone