Ep. 256 Courage over comfort

Courage over comfort

In this week’s episode, Anna argues for the courage to take risks and not always play it safe.

There is a bit of a misconception that entrepreneurs are crazy risk takers and that’s not really true; what is true is that we must choose courage over comfort.

In this week’s episode, we look at…

  • The dangers of playing it too safe and staying stagnant in our ‘comfort zones’ as we miss out on important opportunities
  • The benefits that come from stretching our comfort zones to challenge ourselves and grow beyond what we think is possible
  • The power of taking bold action to drive innovation and creativity and to become a role model for others

Tune in to hear more about choosing courage over comfort.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

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Hello, hello. And today we’re talking about courage, courage. Now, this is a tricky topic, but an important one, I think we’re looking at, you know, the mindsets required to be an entrepreneur. And in doing that, applying that to our lives, whether we are an entrepreneur, in fact or not. So if we have our own business, you know, loosely defined in terms of freelancing, being a solopreneur, experts and so on coach consultant, working for ourselves effectively. And also working in an organization, you know, in the context of the future of work. These kinds of traits, operating comfortably with uncertainty, and daring, greatly as Brene. Brown would say, and we’ll talk about that today. Having that self awareness, finding ways to be intrinsically motivated, that we talked about the last couple of weeks, these are traits that we all need to exhibit as leaders going forward, again, whatever our sort of employment status, so today wants to talk about courage. And the thing is everything. Who has a bold statement, but I think everything I’ve ever done that’s been worthwhile has required, again, as Brene Brown would say vulnerability, and therefore also courage, right is required taking a risk, admitting that you want something asking for help, perhaps taking some kind of risk, because otherwise, it probably wouldn’t even be that rewarding if everyone thing just came easily. You know, if you won the lottery, yes, that would be nice. But it wouldn’t be so rewarding. If you just play it safe.

On the other hand, you know, you’re okay, avoiding risks, right, so you feel comfortable.

And you know, I’ve shared before, and I’m not the only one, alas, this kind of diagram of the comfort zone in an inner circle, then you you either step out of that comfort zone, or you stretch that comfort zone into kind of a growth zone. That great same becomes your comfort zone over time. Outside of that if you go too fast, too soon, I think is the panic zone, or the anxiety zone. I think Amy Edmondson, talks about in her psychological safety work, which we’ll also talk about in a moment, I think there’s actually an inner circle there, which is kind of the stagnation zone, right. I think Amy Edmondson calls it the the apathy zone as well. So inside, because come through, I don’t want to, I don’t want to be too negative about the comfort and comfort, let’s be honest, can be pretty nice sometimes. And if you’re comfortable, if you’ve had a difficult time, you know, if you’re having challenges, relationships, health wise, whatever, then actually being comfortable in your job is quite a good thing. So that you have the energy to focus on other things. And so I don’t think we need to paint the comfort zone or black and an evil. But if you’ve retreated into sort of that inner comfort zone where you don’t actually want to be there, that’s the key, right. And that’s what’s going to lead to feeling stuck, stagnating. And if nothing else was missing opportunities for growth, and development, and fulfillment, and all those lovely things that we want.

So, you know, playing it safe is almost definitely going to lead to stagnation, missed opportunities, from a more sort of, you know, entrepreneurial perspective, again, whether you’re working on projects at work, or as an organization as a whole, as an individual.

You know, there’s a real correlation between taking risks and innovative thinking, creativity, coming up with solutions, as we’ve seen, and you know, don’t have to play the usual game of naming, you know, Kodak blockbuster, movies, brands and boss, Nokia, and so on, that, you know, weren’t able to disrupt themselves to the point that they became pretty much redundant, right? So we have to as businesses, and whether that’s whether we’re a big corporation, department, or, you know, individuals, we need to adapt to changing market dynamics to change situations, whether it was COVID, a few years ago, if you had an offline business, you had to go online, you know, whether it’s now with AI, and so on, if you unfortunately, are feeling quite threatened by that, you know, you need to really make sure that you’re adding value and not being easily replaced by that kind of technology. And that requires courage, because it does require leaving behind something that you, you know, took for granted before, and sort of letting go of that life raft in order to be able to swim ashore, as it were.

And above all, you know, and I’m such a fan, I’m sure you are, too, as a listener here, such a fan of lifelong learning.

And if you’re playing it safe, you know, if you don’t push the boundaries, you don’t you never really will know what you could have done, what you what you truly are capable of, you know, if you’re just sitting at home with your amazing ideas, whether it’s a draft of your book, or even your first blog post or things that you kind of want to say, but you kind of feel like I can’t say that or, you know, you’re worried of people will think can’t be that open and honest or you know, other people say this so I can I can’t disagree with them. And so one, you’re really missing out on so much, unexplored potential and, and potential impact of the ideas that you have. So it comes back to, again, sort of authenticity and believing in yourself having that intrinsic motivation, but so many missed opportunities. Excuse me. So if you if you do, if you are able to have that courage, you know, that is when you can fuel innovation and creativity, so many examples of people and entrepreneurs over the years, I mean, it’s possible, impossible not to to, yeah, to see to see the incredible results that come can come at least and certainly over time, obviously, it’s not that you Oh, I take a risk, and then boom, suddenly, everything falls into place, right? That’s the whole resilience through setbacks along the way, and it’s trying things and it’s the, you know, I tried 10,000 things that didn’t work, and then it worked and so on. Right. So there’s a bit of grit and, and resilience there as well. Speaking of resilience and adaptability, you know, really embracing courage means that you have that resilience and adaptability that you need to address any challenges, inevitably, that will rear their ugly heads along the way.

So the, I think there’s sort of and that’s Carol Dweck, growth mindset, throwing out lots of names here. And but the idea of actually emerging stronger from adversity, right, coming out stronger from challenges, and so on seeing them as opportunities to grow. Having the courage to give it a go. And yeah, maybe you’ll fail. I, you know, I always give the example. It’s so obvious, but because I’ve got little kids, and it’s sort of so top of mind for me, you know, my son didn’t stop trying to talk just because it was difficult. And he was frustrated. In fact, his frustration has led him to be more determined to speak, right? They didn’t stop trying to walk just because they fell over a few times, they keep trying again, my daughter has been always, you know, oh, no, before it was, in fact, both of them say do itself do itself and to the point of have a massive tantrum, if I by mistake, pour the milk on or open the packet or whatever it is, because they’re so determined to find a way we lose that when we’re older, we do get too comfortable. And what I find most interesting is that, you know, I was all about growth and courage, literally, when I quit my job 10 years ago.

How can I keep banging on about that, right? It’s such a long time ago, I went on adventures, paddle boarding, in fact, I mean, when I was younger, I don’t know if that’s really your risk and being courageous, but you know, skydiving and bungee jumping, whatever, when I was 1718. I did those things. And yet, starting a business, that was such a huge thing for me, oh my gosh, starting a podcast sending a newsletter. Now it’s become almost mundane. And that’s where resilience and grit comes in to really be persistent and show up, even though it’s not as as new and exciting. So ironically, you go from ah, this is so scary to oh, this is so like, you just got to keep doing this. But the comfort zone shrinks around you again, what what used to be growth and excitement.

And yes, a little bit scary, becomes very matter of fact, ordinary to the point that I and I’m going to really focus on myself here, I need to keep challenging myself not keep all the time again, it’s it’s nice to enjoy, rest a little bit and regroup and then, you know, plow on.

But yeah, I can’t keep going on oh, well, 10 years ago, I took this really courageous decision, you know, and then now it’s just back to, and that’s not what I’m doing. But I’m giving myself a bit of a slap on the wrist to remind myself that you know, and that’s why I am rethinking you know, it’s been a decade since I left my job. So what’s the next decade gonna look like? Can I come up with a new vision, have my values evolved, in fact, all the things we’re talking about the last few weeks, and you know, we need to revisit them. And that courage that it took 10 years ago, and again, when I launched my coaching, I don’t know, six, seven years ago, and when I launched my first group program, and when I did my first podcast episode, and when I first published a book, blah, blah, blah, each of these things took courage, then become like I’ve done that before. So now what’s the next challenge? So resilience, adaptability, you know, emerging stronger from challenges and so on. And oh my goodness, is it inspirational right when you see other people be really courageous in whatever way and you can really increase your impact and inspire and influence other people when you are you know, being courageous yourself. Right?

So that’s, you know, we’ve all been to those incredible motivating speeches of people who’ve overcome adversity and become all the better for it. And then finally, you know, I’ve named dropped a few people so Brene Brown, definitely recommend recommend the book dare to lead if you’re in a in an organization in particular at work, um, Daring Greatly as her sort of precursor to that more more general I suppose. Amy Edmondson has work on psychological safety. So important because on my side on the side of the individual, we need courage. And to, to dare to show up to be vulnerable. However, there’s the other side of the coin, which is we need our partner, our team, our managers, our colleagues to, to really create an environment of trust, right. And there’s that topic, which is now becoming or the more was much more awareness of anything, this has become more important, we’re more aware that it is important to say, of psychological safety. Because Because if I dare, if I’m vulnerable, and you slap me down, you attack me, you criticize me, you know, you betray that trust, then that’s, that’s a very one sided relationship. And that’s not going to really help me to continue to be courageous as well, right.

So whether it’s your personal relationship or at work as well. So again, coming back to risk, you know, it’s calculated risks, it’s not about being totally open and vulnerable with everybody, people who haven’t even, you know, demonstrated that they deserve that kind of openness.

But it is about daring to, you know, when I, when I was single, hit escape, and wanted to meet someone, and I had to dare to actually talk to people and go on dates. And, you know, maybe they weren’t always the best ones. But I had to kind of admit that, yeah, I would like to meet someone. And that requires a different mindset, different way of showing up. And actually different behavior of Actually Actually Actually going on dates. And the same if you want to, if you tell people, hey, I really want to do this, I want to be a speaker or want to write a book or something fine. But you need to actually do it as well, right? You need to then align your behavior with that new vision, and that does take courage. So you know, that’s then going to contribute to growth for you personally, for your business as well. Hopefully, that’s what when new opportunities are gonna come along, and for your team, for your organization, if you’re still if you’re not if you’re in a company in a corporate environment, and that’s where exciting new ideas can come. And of course, again, whether you’re leading in an organization, or externally, we are I hope leaders by example, we’re role modeling particular behavior.

So if we can be vulnerable if we can be courageous, in our decision making, and how we show up, that’s so inspiring.

You never know who’s watching, oh, only three people watch my live, yes, but three people watched your life, right. And I’ve again, again heard, Oh, I saw you here and I did this, and it’s someone who perhaps has never worked with me, they never paid me to be their coach. And yet, they have been, you know, something has transformed powerfully for them. So I think I was mentioning books. So just to say, again, Brene, brown, there to lead and daring greatly, very important. And Amy Edmondson book is The fearless organization that’s all around psychological safety. So those are two that are really important in this this space. And of course, we’ll talk about that in a couple of weeks. But I’m Carol Dweck and mindset, which is the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset. So I guess a call to action for you a call to arms, bit of a violent metaphor, to think about, okay, what’s in my comfort zone right now go a bit in even deeper sort of what’s in that kind of uncomfortable, comfortable comfort zone? So where’s that kind of apathy, stuck stagnation, feeling that sort of even deeper into comfort zone? And also looking outward? Where could that next opportunity for growth from where in your life do need to show up with more coverage? What would that take, I want to say to make you feel more comfortable with it, you’re never going to feel comfortable.

That’s the whole point. But you need to, again, sort of mitigate the risk, get the support, perhaps that’s going to help you feel more more comfortable, more confident. And then as someone said the other day, you know, and I think back to that bungee jumping and skydiving, I did you know, the the the saying goes, oh jump and then you know, the parachute will open and blah, blah, blah. But hopefully for most of us that is the case. The scary moment is not when you’re flying and going oh my gosh, this is amazing. Why did I do this sooner? The really scary point is when you stand there, and if at my friend Kirsten, and we went to New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, I believe in a gap year and we did the three bungee jumps in New Zealand. And she was ahead of me and on the highest one, I want to say Ben Nevis, but that’s not as cool. It’s something similar to that somebody knows what it’s called. And we’ve got a video of it. She stands with her arms up she’s just about to do it. And then she just you can just see her I can in my head I can see her kind of Oh, cover her face with her hands because it’s that moment and well done good on you Kirsten because she did actually jump and then I did as well. But it’s that moment of taking the leap that scary once you’re down. You know once you’re flying, it’s amazing and once especially the bungee cord has held and you haven’t crushed to your death. Then you feel amazing that you’ve done it as well right. I’m gonna do it again.

I wanted The next one. Same with a skydiving, the moment of jumping out is scary. And in fact, when you’ve done the freefall and you’re facing and you end up with the parachute opening up, and you’re sort of quite peacefully just kind of floating down, you think, why does I say scared, but I mean, jumping out of a plane is a pretty crazy thing to do. So it’s the moment of taking the leap. It’s that initial Oh, I just need to get over the inertia, I just need to push myself a little bit. Once you’re there, you know, once I had quit my job, let’s say once I have gone on the date, or whatever it is, it’s like, oh, it’s not actually that scary. So I hope that’s a bit of a call to action for you to think about, again, where are you live at stagnating? What state steps could you take, and in particular, remember, my brand is one step outside. So everything you’ve ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone, and I’m giving you permission to not take the leap if you’re not ready. But to take those incremental steps. Now, sometimes you do need to take a leap. And the little steps are not enough, there is a moment at which there’s sort of a point of no return. But in the meantime, by all means, find ways to kind of stretch to push to Yeah, to make the comfort zone more malleable and kind of ping it out to see where there’s kind of a thinner point to that membrane where you can ultimately push through and get into that growth zone. So I encourage you to do that. I encourage you to have courage, and wish you all the best looking forward to hearing perhaps where you have been really courageous recently, or where you’re hoping to planning to be courageous going forwards. Next week, I have an interview for you. And then we’ll be back for another few weeks on this thinking like an entrepreneur series. And looking forward to sharing some more thoughts on that. So I’d love to hear your feedback as ever. You can email me at podcast at one step outside.com. And ping me on Instagram, LinkedIn, wherever we’re connected as well. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.


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