Last Sunday I talked about our comfort zone (CZ) and how stepping out of it allows us to increase our awareness, which in turn allows us to change if we feel like it. At the bottom of the post, I promised a CZ-related Share&Inspire. So, as promised, here you can read how I met the ambassador of Argentina.
First let us delimit my comfort zone. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like networking, I am an observer rather than a participant, feel like I haven’t anything interesting to say and am frightened of the point where a conversation with a complete stranger desinflates and awkardness pops up its ugly face. I like going to political and rather intellectual events, though. But usually I am the first to leave, often without having spoken one single word.
Maybe you’ll recognize it more when I put in other words. When it comes to networking, debating, negotiating, socializing and so on, I have all the books at home, have read them too, but there it stops. Putting theory into practice is often a bridge too far, which is why I leave first, to go and buy another book.
A CZ Challenge
Some time ago, however, I decided to do something outside my comfort zone regularly. So when the opportunity arose to attend an Argentina-focused event organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Antwerp, I hesitated not and had myself registered on the list of attendees. If you wonder why Argentina, then it’s good to know that 50% of my family lives in Buenos Aires and both of my children have argentine citizenship. So, anything related to Argentina is interesting to me.
The first part of the evening consisted of 4 presentations (in English), given by the argentine Ambassador, the argentine Consul and 2 businessmen. As I was listening to their slightly too clean stories, I decided the one challenge that would take me out of my comfort zone: I would not leave the event until I had conversed with at least 3 of the 4 speakers.
Confidence with the Ambassador
Much to my own surprise, I managed to do it! First I spoke to the Ambassador himself, a short conversation about the political and economical situation in Argentina. There’s proof of it, as you can see on the pictures. In the end he gave me his business card (I had nothing to give in return). The awkward ending I feared so much, wasn’t awkward at all, but felt natural. The confidence I tanked from my conversation with the Ambassador paved the way for equally short talks with the 2 businessmen. The Consul hadn’t convinced me much during his presentation, so I decided to skip him.
I was still the first to leave (more or less), but not as quick as I would have in most cases. And to this day, I am feeling proud that I had had the ‘courage’ to leave my comfort zone, only to feel I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable at all. While in the past I would feel blocked by my idea I had nothing to offer in a one-on-one conversation with such a high-positioned person, this wasn’t the case during the Argentina event (even though I really didn’t have anything to offer).
Increased Awareness , Expanded CZ
So, how did these 3 short talks help me increase my awareness? Well, as said, it helped me to realize that talking to these people wasn’t outside my comfort zone at all. I was not nervous nor intimidated. Much of the comfort zone delimitation is probably inside our head and less so in the outside world. I was also very much aware of my option to leave at any time I wanted. The recognition of my freedom to choose between staying and leaving made me feel powerful.
In short, challenging my comfort zone was a true YAYOM experience.
It expanded my comfort zone, it increased my awareness and it boosted my sense of freedom. At not point did it feel like a bad idea or a fail, without it ever feeling evident either. I will surely do similar challenges again in the future and I recommend it to you too.
Have a similar story? How did it go? What was your approach and how did it feel afterwards? Inspire us! Share it, here or on Facebook.