David Wood Breaking Out of your Comfort Zone

I Practice What I Preach

July 20, 2007

By David Wood

Just so you know that I practice what I preach, here’s how I have blown up my own personal comfort zone over the years. It’s always a tad scary, but afterwards I’m happy I tried something different. Fours years ago I realized that I was bored with my life and unsure where I was headed. I now know I have a 10 year attention span. I had certainly never taken the normal path through the forest.

At twenty-two, I had dropped out of law school to move to Los Angeles and become a stand-up comedian. As I sure you can probably guess, my parents were thrilled! My gamble paid off over time as I was on The David Letterman Show a number of times. On one of those appearances, Dian Ross saw me and asked me to open for her at Caesars Palace. I was never a big star, but made a nice living and had got to do cool stuff. Then, I got bored.

Seeking change, in 1993 I moved to Seattle where I’d performed over the years and had grown to love the Pacific Northwest during those visits. Tired of telling jokes in night clubs, I started Right Brain Business Training there – an award winning company that made corporate training videos which are now sold worldwide. The company was successful, but after 10 years, boredom reared its ugly head once again. It was time for something new.

Seeking more change, I sold everything I owned in 2004 and traveled around-the-world for a year from the worlds southernmost to northernmost golf courses – Ushuaia, Argentina to Tromso, Norway. Over the course of 11 months, tens of thousands of miles, I traveled and golfed in every continent except Antarctica en route. 

Getting out of my comfort zone led to amazing stories and experiences. In addition to meeting scores of wonderful people worldwide, I also got lost, stranded, had food poisoning, altitude sickness, and was kicked out of the Ukraine at midnight in route to Russia. I got caught in the middle of a civil war in Nepal, trapped in violent uprisings by the peasants of Bolivia and accidentally met the notorious Carlos Menhem, the former President of Argentina, after a round of golf in Buenos Aries. It’s funny, but my travails hold a fonder spot in my memories my adventure. Adversity leads to growth (if you let it).

Upon return, I wrote my first book on that adventure and Around the World in 80 Rounds will be released by St. Martin’s Press in March of 2008. I now back to getting in front of audiences as I now give a keynote on my trip to business groups and association on getting out of comfort zones and challenging their inner adventurer. I’m sure I’ll keep going down this road for a time. But as I now know, boredom will set in and then I’ll try….who knows what.

5 Steps to Challenge Your “Inner Adventurer”

July 18, 2007

By David Wood

When we sometimes reach those points in life where ennui takes hold of our thoughts and actions, remember that this is probably something you’ve done to yourself. And the good news is that you can do something about it. Change can only happen when you allow yourself room to grow. Venture out of your comfort zones into unfamiliar territory with small brave steps by challenging your “Inner Adventurer.” Here are 5 ideas to start the process:

1. Get off the hamster wheel – We wake up at the same time, eat the same breakfast, drive the same route to work, talk about the same things upon arrival to the same people. Get off that hamster wheel and vary your life. Mix it up.  Take the bold initiative of trying something you’ve never done before. It doesn’t matter how big or small the change is. The important thing is to break your routine. The more often you try the easier it becomes. Soon you’ll be challenging yourself with something bold that fosters career or personal growth.

2. Face the fears that hold you back – Usually we don’t take the steps we need for personal growth because of those pesky nagging fears in the back of our minds. We certainly give that voice a tremendous amount of power over us. “I’m too old to learn something new.” “I don’t have time to take that yoga class.” “I’d love to try for that promotion, but what if I don’t get it?” Well, what if you do! Change the “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t” or “I’m too scared” to “I’m going to” and keep that promise to yourself. Most fears are paper tigers easily defeated when confronted head-on.

3. Embrace change – Change is inevitable, expect from vending machine as the saying goes.  It’s the only constant in life. As you know by now, life is rarely going to turn out the way you planned so learn to move with the tide. That great philosopher Yogi Berra said it best: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” His unintended wisdom is relevant.  Again, successful people know change occurs no matter how much we might wish otherwise. When it’s time to face the winds of change they go with it. By getting out your comfort zone on your own accord you’ll be more able to confront the unexpected when it comes along (as it surely will).

4. Accept help from teammates – The great thing about getting out of our comfort zones and seeking personal change is that we don’t have to go it alone. Take advantage of mentors, teachers, speakers, co-workers, and gurus to assist you in your new goals. People respond to those wanting to better themselves. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just challenge yourself a bit. Accept that there are people you might know more in the areas in which you’re uncertain and use their experience, encouragement, and wisdom to your benefit.

5. Do your homework – Short cuts are short-term solutions. As we all know from our school days, the walk to school in the morning is more pleasant when we did our homework the night before. Do your homework. Take all the necessary steps not just the easiest ones. This road takes a little longer, but the views are usually better and you won’t have to retrace your steps.

Get moving immediately and challenge your Inner Adventurer. The attainment of your goals is closer than you think.

Is Your “Comfort Zone” Holding You Back?

July 16, 2007

By David Wood

Let’s face it. We’re all creatures of habit – especially in the areas of career and personal growth. No matter the profession, we all get used to certain procedures, routines, expectations, and, for the most part, quietly go along with the status quo even if boredom starts to wrap its tentacles around our lives. Why rock the boat? Not wanting to risk our current lot in life, we get a little scared to take a new step in an unknown direction. Like lemmings, we go with the flow as days turn into years and suddenly one day we find ourselves on the short side of important goals we’d hoped to one day accomplish.

It’s not too late. Take the plunge with one little step in ANY new direction. Just get the ball rolling. Challenge yourself immediately with new input from books, magazines, and speakers. Try new foods. Exercise at a new time (or start exercising!). Take the scenic route to work or better yet try public transportation if that’s not your norm. Listen to the radio in the evening rather than watching television. While attending a conference, take a break small break and go to a museum for an hour. Learn Spanish in your spare time. The key is to try something…anything… new and different. Start blowing up your comfort zone. Get rid of it! Chances are it isn’t serving you as well as think (and it’ll take you back with open arms if you come crawling home).

Successful people seem to follow this procedure innately. Back in 2006, I heard the wildly successful movie producer Brain Grazer on NPR discussing his belief in disrupting his personal comfort zone every day and on purpose. I loved his idea of trying anything just as long as it’s out of his normal routine. As Ron Howard’s longtime partner in Imagine Entertainment and with box office hits like A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 to their credit, Mr. Grazer can certainly afford to coast from day-to-day, yet he doesn’t. He took up surfing – complete with the angry looks and snickers of younger wave riders – ¬ at 45 years old. He continually seeks out audiences with experts in subjects well out of his comfort zone like forensics and anthropology and even nuclear weapons. He talked of his meeting with Edward Teller – the father of hydrogen bomb – who had never heard of him and ridiculed him as just a silly show biz type during their terse meeting. Was Grazer defeated? Hardly. He’d taken a chance and that’s what keeps him going. I love his quote: “Disrupting my comfort zone, bombarding myself with challenging people and situations, this is the best way I know to keep growing. And, if you’re not growing you’re dying.”

Put yourself in a position to grow. Once out of your old comfort zone you’ll realize the only thing that was holding you back was yourself.  Dreams matter.

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