It’s nice to have people around who support you and are like-minded. Agreeable people boost our confidence and put our minds at ease. We know their styles and they know ours. This makes it easy to find rhythm. Unfortunately, being comfortable can stall learning and innovation, which can harm personal growth and your career.
It’s nice to have people agree, but you need healthy conflict and differing perspectives to dig out the truth. If everyone in the group has a similar point of view, you will suffer from confirmation bias aka rarely breaking boundaries. Take a look at your own network and those you surround yourself with. Are your contacts the same ones you’ve had for years? Do they share your point of view on most subjects? Then it’s time to shake things up and get uncomfortable.
I’m not saying ditch your friends and find new ones, but take a hard look at your personal and professional life. Are you stuck? I felt stuck for years and just always kind of “fell into” jobs and did what most others advised me to do. Sure I valued the advice that I got from close friends and colleagues, but I was miserable. So of course it was time to bust out of my comfort zone and take charge. I left the comfortable lifestyle behind and followed my passion. Not to mention all of the negative folks that I was forced to be around as well. I think that’s my favorite part about the fitness industry is that there is no comfort zone. Everything is uncomfortable, because you’re constantly growing; physically, mentally and emotionally. No time to sit around with negativity and gossip around the water cooler.
Anyways, here are five tips for engaging people who will expand your perspective and increase success:
1. Identify where you are stuck. Do some self-assessment to determine where you have become stale in your thinking and approach. You may need to start by asking your current social circle to help you identify your blind spots. Additionally, make a list of people who have made you most uncomfortable in your life and list the reasons why. They say that we see reflections of ourselves in others, both good and bad. This could reveal a lot about yourself that you never knew before.
2. Go where the successful people are. As people get more confident in their abilities, they often create habits limiting new ideas and information. Successful people are always breaking the mold, constantly learning and reinventing themselves. Seek out social networks and people who are outside your normal way of thinking. Pursue writers of online posts that make you react strongly and people in your life that challenge you. Invite them into your conversation and see what you can learn.
3. Engage in friendly debate. Passionate, energetic debate does not require anger and hard feelings to be effective. But it does require some ground rules so everyone understands responsibilities and boundaries. Establish structure to your discourse so people can feel safe. Remember, the objective of debate is not to win, but to get to the truth that will allow growth and everyone wins that way.
4. Check in regularly. Evaluate yourself every 30 days. What’s working? What isn’t? Is it time to shake things up again? Only you can answer these questions and maybe those new challenging friends/mentors in your life will help push you in the direction that you are meant to go. If you’re comfortable, chances are that it’s time to keep moving onward and upward.
5. Celebrate the journey and successes on the way. The purpose of “checking-in regularly” is to monitor progress, but more importantly, it’s meant to celebrate the good things that have happened along the way. Make sure that everyone who has helped you knows how much you appreciate them. The more appreciated they feel, the more they’ll be willing to help you get out of your comfort zone next time. Chances are they will ask you to return the favor in the future, as well.
‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so do one thing every day that scares you.” – Neale Donald Walsh