One Uncomfortable Difference Between Successful and Unsuccessful People

Comfort Zone

Are you one of those people who jealously adore successful people and think, “Why am I not successful? Why haven’t I reached fame – even if I’ve worked hard every day? What’s wrong with me?”

Because of these questions and self-doubts, you may even lose motivation to consistently do the work you are passionate about. You ponder to yourself: “I don’t seem to reach success, no matter what I do. All those other people became successful so easily”.

If this is you, then read on …

Inability to see the whole picture
When you are thinking to yourself: “They got to their level of success so easily,” or, “There is something wrong with me and the work I do,” you are clearly missing the big picture.

First, thinking that successful people achieved all they have overnight is just an illusion.

In fact, it took them quite a few “overnights” until they reached their current level of success.  Second, they had to put in hard work before success was knocking at their doors. And because reaching success took much longer than just overnight, they had to be persistent and consistent in their actions.

Even if those two previous points are true when it comes to reaching success, there is still one crucial difference between successful and unsuccessful people.

Living in your Cozy Zone
Let’s take the average Joe or Jane. He or she is living a cozy life and pretty much doing the same everyday things.. Things go on smoothly and nicely. There are no rocky roads, no rough decisions.  In other words, he or she is s living inside a comfort zone.

On the other hand, let’s take a look at the Sean the Successful. Although he surely has his own comfort zone too, he is also continuously pushing himself outside of that zone.  He fails all the time but uses those as learning experiences to tweak his behavior.    In other words, he is willing to do things that the average Joe is not – even if those things put him in an uncomfortable state at times.

Here is the deal: Even if stretching your comfort zone may feel unpleasant, the payoffs can be huge and you can reach your goals much faster. But if you are not willing to do anything that puts your comfort zone in danger – at least temporarily – then reaching success and achieving big things is going to take a much longer time.

Now, even if you already understand that you should stretch your comfort zone, there are really three major things that are stopping you:

  • You are not confident enough to take action
  • You are afraid of failure
  • You are afraid of rejection from other people

Although this list of obstacles may seem impossible to tackle, you shouldn’t be afraid. In fact, you can overcome those things if you want to!

Kick yourself out of the zone
So, how do you stretch your comfort zone and reach success faster?

First, realize that even if you mistakenly think you fail, most likely that feeling is just inside your head.  And after all, what is failing anyway? Would you call someone a failure – even if he/she was striving to push themselves to do the things he/she was afraid of?  I wouldn’t! In fact, I would give that person a lot of respect for doing something that others weren’t willing to do.

Second, once you take action towards things you are afraid of, your self-confidence is going to get a major boost and you will realize shouting: “Heck, I can do this! I can do this!”  I can’t tell you how many times I have felt like this after accomplishing something I mistakenly identified as impossible to do.

Finally, you may think that people will perceive you as stupid or reject you if you take bold action. Well guess what, who cares!  Why on Earth would you allow someone else’s thoughts or reactions to dictate your happiness?

Once you get rid of those irrational fears and expectations and begin to take action, you are already ahead of 90% of others who aren’t willing to do anything which puts them in discomfort.  Think about this.  The simple act of BEGINNING is something that most aren’t willing to do.  Begin and you are ahead.

Also, a funny thing happens when you take action: Something that you thought was scary eventually becomes so natural and effortless. You just have to be consistent with your actions and do the dreaded task no matter what.

Let the transformation begin
There are many ways to stretch your comfort zone and what may feel like comfort zone stretcher for you, may not feel that way to someone else.

In order to stretch your zone, do the following:

  1. Understand that everyone (even those successful people) started from the scratch. They had to take the same steps you will have to take in order to become successful.
  2. Let go of unreasonable fears. Think: “I’m doing something that most people are not willing to do – that’s why I’m ahead of them.”
  3. Understand that only by taking action will you be able to move things forward. Also, as soon as you take action towards something that you were afraid to do, you will become a stronger person and feel good about yourself; this builds confidence.
  4. Start out small. For example, if you want to become a public speaker, you don’t have to start by speaking to an audience of thousands of people. Start in front of your friends and family members, and then expand from there.
  5. If you have a blog, start interviewing people, start a podcast and at some point, have your own webinars on the topic you are good at.
  6. Take consistent action (preferably on a daily basis), which take you to what I call the “uncomfort-zone” at least a bit.
  7. Once the uncomfort-zone becomes a part of your comfort zone, try to do something bigger and scarier (like talking to a room of 20 people using the public speaking example).

Remember, there are two key actions that you have to remember:

  • a) Start out small
  • b) Stretch your comfort zone on a consistent basis (preferably on daily basis).

By taking these steps, you will be able to improve your self-confidence and start to differentiate yourself from the crowd. When you are willing to take action by doing things you are afraid of, you start to see possibilities that didn’t exist before.

Over to you: How do you handle scary things that put you in the uncomfort-zone? Do you have any tips for successfully stretching your comfort zone?

Written on 5/28/2012 by Timo Kiander. Timo, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar. Photo Credit: mattastic!
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