If Thailand Taught Me Anything it’s That I am Not a Pond
There are many places that we aspire to be in business: at the top, in flow, hanging out with other amazing influential entrepreneurs. We want to be the best, or making the most difference, or learning the most on our journey.
Or maybe we’d like to be in the comfort zone…
Okay, so we don’t quite aspire to be there, but sometimes we find ourselves there and we sorta shrug our heavily laden shoulders and say, ‘No one will notice.. will they? Nah, I’ll just enjoy this nice feeling whilst it lasts’.
Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You know where your comfort zone is and sometimes you just want to stay there, clinging onto it like the warmest, softest blanket you’ve ever wrapped yourself up in.
And it feels so good!
So safe, so relaxed, so… samey.
But this post is not about how lovely your business comfort zone is, it’s about how damaging it is and how to get out of it.
Yes, as easy as it is to float along with enough cash in the bank and a string of lacklustre clients, in a few years time you will feel the full weight of wasted time in the comfort zone. The business will dry up, everyone else will be 10 steps ahead and you’ll have to go and get yourself a J-O-B.
Imagine the horror!
No, the comfort zone is no place for a feisty gal like you. You’ve got ambition, guts and bucket loads of brilliant ideas that are just waiting for you to breathe life into them. Think of all those people who need to you to be breaking free of your comfort zone and creating your impact in the world, no matter how large or small.
The idea for this post and also a recognition that I’ve been sitting in my very own comfort zone for about a year, came from my trip to Thailand. As I write this I’m sitting directly under a half-hearted fan, looking out over a street full of coconut and pancake vendors each trying to engage wide eyed tourists in salesy conversation.
‘Hey Boss, where you from? Ah yeah, my cousin lives there…’ Yes, in parallel universe, matey! Pfft!
When I stepped off of the plane into the swarming hub of Bangkok I stepped straight out of my comfort zone. This being my first visit to South East Asia, it soon became a merry-go-round of rip off merchants and bad smells. Where was the beautiful, cultural Thailand I’d seen in the adverts?!
Since then I have found the beautiful cultural Thailand I was looking for, but this certainly took me right out of my comfort zone, far away from the Irish pubs on Khao San road and Spain-like beaches of Koh Samui. Into the deepest mountains surrounding Chiang Mai and across the burning hot sands of Koh Tao.
But with this idealistic Thailand came the realisation that I like my comfort zone very, very much indeed. Would I swap a tropical beach for some day time television? On occasion the answer would have been ‘Yes, Homes Under the Hammer where art thou?!’. In the depths of ‘missing home’ misery I have often wondered what my family were cooking for dinner that night, whilst staring at a rotating mush of unidentifiable meat, or gagging on the smell of Durian fruit which seems to penetrate every market you step foot in.
But do you know what, the majority of the time, being out of my comfort zone has taken me to places I would never have seen, met people that have opened my eyes to the vastness and beauty of our world and forced me to grow.
I’ve eaten the most random of foods, ridden a very angry elephant, slept on a farm with a hole for a toilet and a large bin full of water for a shower, gotten lost in the jungle (seriously, our tour guide just walked off with the group leaving myself and a german girl wandering around completely lost), I have haggled and complained – the most un-British thing you can do – I have spent far too much money on taxis, I have been in the most beautiful temples, I have ridden on sleeper trains and buses, I have complained about the heat and the air-conditioning, I have lost all sense of privacy in dorm rooms, I’ve cuddled baby monkeys and ladyboys (it’s not how it sounds…) And I’ve met people who do all this as if it’s their day job… Really cool people. People that are stretching themselves and growing everyday.
And that is the crux of it all.
If you ain’t growing then you’re stagnating. And who really wants to stagnate, like a green, filmy pond?
No one. Especially not you or I.
I certainly don’t want to end up green and slimy, with the occasional thirsty animal licking at my edges whilst grimacing at the taste. No, I want to be the ever flowing river, cutting my own path through the mountains, calm and controlled in some places and wild and free in others. I want animals and humans alike to quench their thirst on my sweet, fresh water and to frolic and play in my wake. And eventually I’ll join the great ocean, on my next adventure.
Nope, I’m not cut out to be a pond. Not even one with ducks. Cute ducks.
So, Thailand has been an eye opener, a growth spurt and a lot of fun, but mostly it’s been a big ole slap round the face.
Business isn’t about being in a groove, or making yourself look like your really busy or making a ton of cash. No, it’s about stretching, putting yourself in positions that make you want to hurl and poop yourself at the same time.
Nice analogy there… But it’s true. It’s the only way to move forward.
We are always going to be a beginner at something so we might as well embrace the first stages of learning a new skill. You know, the bit where you feel like a nervous, inadequate loser.
If your next goal is to get up on stage and speak to 100 people, whilst trying to convince them that you know what you’re talking about (which you totally do by the way), then it should make you want to hurl and shit yourself at the same.
That means that it’s a good goal, a goal that is going to take you forward in leaps and bounds.
If however the same situation makes you feel, well, indifferent, then you need to be choosing another goal. One that makes your insides scream, or your palms to get sweaty, or your best friend to tell you that your crazy (which you totally are by the way, welcome to the club!)
It’s time to free ourselves from the comfort zone, to ungracefully tear free from that warm blanket, maybe fall off the sofa in the process. You could even tie it around your neck and sport it as a cape, flapping behind you in reminder that you are NOT the pond, you are the fearless, ferocious river! (Wearing a cape…)
Today, cape wearer, I would like you to set goal. If anything that I have said above has struck a chord with you then I implore you to make sure you do this.
Even if it’s the only thing you do today. Yes – I give you explicit permission to loll around on your chaise longue for the rest of the day, vino in hand – it’s what I’ll be doing.
But before that you need to set a goal. Even if you did your ‘be, do, have’ list yesterday, I’ll bet it could be better. Scarier.
There’s one goal in you that you haven’t written down, because you don’t think you can achieve it. You shy away from it, heart doing a thousand cartwheels and legs like jelly. Nope, you don’t like that feeling, you don’t like being uncomfortable. You’d rather just write down: eat and toast whilst reading some more blog articles, for ‘inspiration’. Okay… so that’s what I would write!
No, this goal is better than that, it will propel you right outta your comfort zone into the stratosphere of excellence. It may make you feel sick, it may seem impossible, but you know that nothing is impossible, you’re an entrepreneur for Buddha’s sake!
Do this, now:
Look at your current goal.
Rate it 1-10, 1 being ‘yawn-o’clock’, 10 being ‘OMG – am I really doing this?!’
If it’s below 7 (7 being ‘EEEEK! Bit nervous!’) then you need to up the ante.
Or if you have a goal in your mind that is a 10 then write that down. I know you’ve been putting it off, but putting pen to paper isn’t signing your soul away to the devil.
If you panic at the thought of that goal, I say ‘Bravo!’, but now we’ve got to make it more plausible.
And the best way to do that is…
Take your baby steps and before you even know it, the goal will be completed. You’ll no longer feel sweaty or nauseous when you think about it. You will be embracing that situation again and again, with ease.
You will finally be the river, forging your pathway to success.
You’ll utter to your adoring fans, ‘Fuck the comfort zone! I’m living on the edge!’
How rock ‘n’ roll can you get!?
For me, I too need to take this advice, stop being a scared little girl and embrace the kick arse entrepreneur that I was born to be. Lets grease up and get things moving ladies!
Out of my comfort zone and no longer the pond,