When you’re in business there’s a lot of talk about leaving your comfort zone as a tool for growth. I’ve realised that it’s a message that mostly resonates with women. A couple of weeks ago I shared the image below on my social media accounts and the response was greater than anything else I’ve shared this month. Then I realised that everyone who liked and commented, no matter which platform they saw it on, was a female business owner. It wouldn’t be the first time. It’s entirely possible that I’m living in a female centric bubble on social media, but it struck me that you don’t hear men talking about comfort zones. Maybe the ones who start businesses are just naturally confident and the rest get a normal job. Yet I meet loads of women who start up on their
own but lack the confidence to shout about what they do. I don’t say this as someone with all the answers because I struggle with it myself.
I’ve been trying to think of ways to get rid of the mind monkeys (thanks to Claire Mitchell at The Girls Mean Business for that phrase). Actually, since I’ve been watching Baby Chimp Rescue on BBC2 they’ve turned into cheeky chimps in my head. (Seriously, if you haven’t watched it, do. It cheers me up and makes me sob in equal measure.) Then I realised that I’ve already done something that lots of people wouldn’t do outside of a gap year adventure. When I was already a (supposedly) sensible solicitor I headed off to Argentina for a solo expedition. No organised tour, no nothing. Just a husband who’d gone to learn advanced skiing for six weeks and a self-planned itinerary. This is how I got the confidence.
When I told my colleagues that I was going to haul myself across Argentina with nothing for company but a good book (often the best kind of company) they looked at me as if I’d gone a bit mad. My friends and family, on the other hand, barely batted an eyelid. (Although the potential cost of international phone calls meant my mum finally learned to text.) This wasn’t the first time I’d travelled alone, although it was certainly the most dramatic. I had a habit of taking myself off to different cities to explore for the day and took a family history research trip to Edinburgh. By the time I landed in Buenos Aires I was ready. While big, dramatic leaps out of your comfort zone are sometimes necessary, it’s definitely worth getting warmed up first.
The biggest shock of landing in a foreign country by myself was the fact that I was completely alone. It was scary and liberating at the same time. I could do whatever I wanted and didn’t have to negotiate with anyone else. Starting a business was much the same. The key (for me at least) to tackling both situations has been to get involved with something. In Argentina I booked the activities and got a table for one in the local restaurants. It’s amazing how many people talk to you when you’re by yourself. It’s the same in business when you find the right networking groups. I’ve built relationships with people that understand the life and my business (not to mention my head) is in a better place because of it.
Does all of this mean that I’ll never have to worry about leaving my comfort zone again? Of course not. Mind monkeys can strike even the most successful of us. It’s just reminded me that it is possible. If you’re reading this thinking that I’m braver than you, I’m not. I’ve probably just had more practice.
If starting a blog is outside your comfort zone, I’m here to help. My 5 day blogging kick start challenge starts on Monday and will help you go from a blank page to a finished blog. Sign up using the form below to join in.
Claire Mitchell from The Girls Mean Business on squishing
your mind monkeys
Treat yourself to some real life baby chimps in Baby Chimp Rescue