How to leave your comfort zone (minus the cliches)

During a wonderful afternoon of people-watching at Austin’s Barton Springs pools, one man stood out. With an (overly?) sculpted body, ankle weights and delivering some kind of existential live-stream to his followers, we unanimously decided life hacking isn’t for us.

So this isn’t that kind of article

We won’t be filling these paragraphs with coffee mug quotes or singing the praises of the 4-hour work week; instead, in Powrsuit style, we’re sharing a few simple ways to view your world in a new light.

For those who’ve somehow missed our #Powrtrip updates, we’re currently in the US. We’re here with the Angel Association of New Zealand to make connections, learn and prepare for the global launch of our Membership Network (update: now launched!). After too many years trapped in New Zealand (#Covid) and even more working on a platform for Kiwi investors, we were out of touch with the rest of the world. We needed to get out of our comfort zone. 

To be clear, this trip is really scary

We’re meeting with some incredibly intimidating investors and founders who’ve survived this intense heat ‘made’ it in the biggest market in the world. We’re bootstrapping this business; we haven’t earned a salary in over a year (have you seen the exchange rate at the moment?). And we have so much to do. This newsletter doesn’t write itself; our podcast needs editing, and then there’s the small task of building a Global Membership Network for women leaders and male allies. 

We have a grand vision to deliver personalised, impactful leadership development for all professional women on the way up. That takes focus, dedication and mega effort. So why are we sitting at a cafe in Denver writing between startup week sessions instead of staying home in delivery mode? Because we know that getting out of our comfort zones is a must – because your “comfort zone is a beautiful place – but nothing ever grows there” (ok, we got one #inspirational quote in). This trip has been eye-opening. From our tour around the Texas State Capitol to lunch at a dive bar on Sixth, we’re confronted minute to minute with a culture entirely unlike ours. Our Uber driver is starting an AI company for acupuncturists. We’re not in Wellington anymore.

Take a step back

It’s so easy to fill our days with action. The to-do list gets ever longer, and our plates ever fuller. But all that activity can hide the bigger picture. And it keeps us in our comfort zones. That’s where we need to be most of the time because it’s what makes us impactful leaders. But it shouldn’t be where we live all the time. 

So here are three very simple ways to get out of your comfort zone without having to endure a 20-hour flight 😉

Meet new people

Yes, networking is scary. But it also opens doors and brings diverse perspectives to your decision-making. Networking isn’t all big events and LinkedIn. It can be as simple as shoulder-tapping a colleague and going for coffee. Not a big talker? Turn up with three questions (What do you enjoy doing outside of work? What’s your favourite part of your job? What are you working on at the moment?) – you’ll be memorable for your interest in others.

Try something new

On this trip, we may have the opportunity to go rock climbing. Kristen used to be very good at it, but Nat is terrified of heights. Both of us immediately reacted negatively to the idea. Then, we put our worries aside and decided to go for it. Who cares if you’re terrible? Who cares if you barely get off the ground? Your comfort zone is yours. Just give it a whirl and see what happens. Rarely do you look back and regret pushing yourself. #noregerts

Take a break (for you)

If you have leave, use some of it for you. Go for a solo lunch, walk or movie date, or be extravagant and book a hotel room. Be like Nat: a few weeks ago, after staring blankly at her screen for too long, Nat took the afternoon off to go to the movies. Deeply uncomfortable with leaving her laptop halfway through a workday, she was pleasantly surprised when the decision immediately paid off. Getting out of her comfort zone allowed her brain the space to solve one of her big blockers. 

Life is our comfort zone, but take a holiday from it

Day-to-day life is where we should thrive. We’re not advocating for ankle weights and live-streams, but we are fans of keeping life fresh. Think back to the last time you took a risk. How did it pan out? Good or bad, we bet you learned something, and your life is better for it. So just remember to give it a whirl every now and then so you “don’t let fear make your decisions for you.”

30 second action:

The next time you get presented with an uncomfortable opportunity, pause before you say ‘no’. We’ve both fumbled our way through multiple pitches this week. It’s painful, but it won’t stop us putting our hand up next time the opportunity arises!

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