Moving Outside of My Comfort Zone
How many times have you been told — as a company employee, corporate executive, or even as an entrepreneur — to ‘push out of your comfort zone’ or to ‘put yourself out there’?
I am an entrepreneur and the founder of Like a Boss Girls. My work background as a senior marketing executive includes many years of experience in the corporate world working for large Fortune 100 companies.
As an executive, I had to give many presentations and speeches to senior management and large audiences, even though public speaking intimidated me. I have learned that I am not alone in experiencing this anxiety. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety (aka ‘glossophobia’) affects about 73% of the population.
I spent many hours developing and finessing my presentations and speeches, and many more hours practicing in front of the mirror. I adopted a compelling line from the movie Apollo 13 as my mantra: “Failure is not an option”. I started using visualization techniques to manifest a positive outcome. As I stood on stage, I’d silently repeat my mantra over and over while visualizing a positive reaction from the audience. I made the conscious decision to conquer my anxiety and step into my power and out of my comfort zone. I crushed these presentations and speeches. I got it done.
I made the conscious decision to conquer my anxiety and step into my power and out of my comfort zone.
When I decided to create Like a Boss Girls, I transitioned from being a senior executive with a huge staff and generous budget into life as a scrappy entrepreneur. It was quite a challenge! I focused on running my business behind the scenes, working on the development of our company and network, setting up the team, creating the strategy, and implementing our marketing activities.
I was jazzed because of my love for creating and developing, and I felt confident that all my hard work would be enough to drive the growth of the company. Perhaps you could say I had the ‘if you build it, they will come’ syndrome. I was content to be working within my comfort zone. Why would I need to put myself out there again and give major speeches and presentations? All that preparation and stress — it’s just not my jam.
I was operating under the assumption that since my company was all about ‘Boss Girls’, that it wasn’t about me. I didn’t see myself as the face of the company, and I told myself that my company would speak for itself.
Well, I was wrong. Someone needs to be the public cheerleader and that someone is me. As Founder and Chief Boss, my role needs to be that of ‘Queen Bee’. In a beehive, the queen bee plays a critical role, laying her eggs and adding quality bees to her hive. In business, a queen bee is the leader. It is up to her to guide her company to achieve the vision she has put forth, all while supporting the efforts of her team members.
I realized that as the queen bee of my company, I needed to be in the public eye — and yes, that meant I’d be giving presentations and speeches. This was my Oprah aha moment. No more hiding. No more excuses. My company is my baby and my life’s dream, and I am willing to do everything within my power to give it the voice it deserves.
My company is my baby and my life’s dream, and I am willing to do everything within my power to give it the voice it deserves.
Yes, putting myself out there makes me feel really vulnerable. You know those annoying little voices of self-doubt? The ones that buzz around in your head, whispering, ‘I don’t know if what I have created is good enough’? I had to silence that voice by reminding myself about the entirety of my career and my accomplishments. I am incredibly proud of Like a Boss Girls, but promoting my baby in the public eye requires me to step outside of my comfort zone. It scares me, but as the Chief Boss, I know how important it is to be THE super cheerleader for Like a Boss Girls and lead with confidence.
In challenging moments of my life, I often think about one of my favorite books, The Little Engine That Could. The main character, the Little Engine, is given a difficult mission to pull a very large train up a very steep grade. None of the bigger engines in the book are willing to do it because every single one of them is convinced they would surely fail. By believing in herself and using the power of positive thinking, the Little Engine evolves her attitude from ‘I think I can’ to ‘I know I can’.
Recently, a friend encouraged me to speak at a marketing conference. She told me, “Marla, get out of your comfort zone and play big”. I realized that it was time for me, Chief Boss Girl and Queen Bee, to accept this challenge. Yes, I told myself, ‘I know I can’ — and I knew I could.
Arriving at the conference, I found out that: (A) there were 150+ attendees, not 25 attendees as I’d been led to believe; (B) the other presenters were representing major Fortune 100 brands, whereas I was representing the much-smaller Like a Boss Girls; and (C) the organizer was experiencing technical difficulties and I had to scramble and obtain a different file format for my presentation a mere 20 minutes before I was due to give my speech. Technical snafus are my worst nightmare!
Taking a deep breath, I did some visualizing and silently repeated my favorite mantra: Failure is not an option. I had to ‘play big’, and I nailed it.
I’ve learned several key lessons, both from this experience and overall, that will help me as an entrepreneur building my business. I am going to do my best to remember the following:
- Like a Boss Girls is my baby and my business, and as an entrepreneur, it is my responsibility to be my baby’s number-one cheerleader. I am the Queen Bee and the Chief Boss. It’s really critical for me to step into this role and own it — no more hiding behind the scenes.
- You can feel insecure and unworthy at any age, regardless of how much personal, professional or financial success you’ve had along the way. But with courage and hard work, it is possible to overcome these anxieties.
- I understand that I have an emotional connection with my business. While it’s important for me to respect these feelings, I need to stop hiding behind them. It is okay to feel vulnerable, but I need to step into my power and dare to play big.
- Striving for perfection can be exhausting. Sometimes you just need to let go and get it done. As my friend and business coach Debra Angilletta always tells me, sometimes we need to ‘build the street before we build the city’.
- Yes, visualization does work. I envisioned a positive response from the audience during my recent speech, and that empowered me to feel confident about what I was saying and how the audience would react to it.
- Like a Boss Girls has a very important mission: we are dedicated to improving the lives of women. Our role is special and I am proud to represent my company in any setting and at any stage of our growth.
There’s a quote that comes to mind: “Great things never came from comfort zones”. The more I have put myself out there, the more I have realized just how much truth lies in those words. I have dared to move Like a Boss Girls out of my comfort zone lately — launching new projects, trying different strategies, and expanding our horizons — and I’ve never felt more confident that our future will hold lots these ‘great things’ that are now within our reach.
We’d love to hear your experiences of how you took the plunge, played it big and pushed out of your comfort zone! Please share your story below. 🙂