Are You Zoned for Comfort?

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Challenging yourself to leave your comfort zone isn’t easy, but it may be necessary if you want to be an effective business leader. These tips can help ease the pain.

How comfortable are you with being uncomfortable? It’s an important question given the pressure that business owners face to make decisions quickly and to adapt to changing markets, economic realities and customer demands. When the pressure builds, it can be tempting to stay (or retreat) to what you know – back where it’s safe and familiar.

But that may not be the smartest move you can make. In his book, “Your Survival Instinct is Killing You: Retrain Your Brain to Conquer Fear, Make Better Decisions, and Thrive in the 21st Century” (Hudson Street Press), author Marc Schoen asserts that to be effective, business leaders must face and conquer their fear of the unknown.

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And while you may consciously understand the difference between job pressure and fear, your subconscious does not; it interprets pressure as fear. If you’re ready to expand your comfort zone, Dennis McCafferty at CIO Insight outlines a few of Schoen’s tips to help you fearlessly tackle whatever business challenges come your way.

1. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable when the stakes are high; instead of shutting down your emotions, tap into your unease and use it as fuel to get the job done.

2. Hone your ability to perform under pressure by playing games like Scrabble or chess. Not a leisurely game; play timed matches or place a wager on the outcome to up the ante.

3. At times, focusing on the goal – and seeing all the work it will take to reach it – can feel overwhelming. Instead, break the journey down into tangible steps and find the fun and excitement in what you learn or achieve on the way to your destination.

4. Search out foods, music, activities and places you’ve never experienced.

5. Decrease your reliance on technology to answer questions, i.e., Google. Sharpen your mind by reading more and conversing with, you know, actual people.

6. Create quiet time every day. Step away from email, phones, and any other over-stimulating distractions and give yourself time to think.

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7. Forget summaries, bottom lines and bullet points. Delve into a topic or an in-depth article, and listen to people without interrupting.

8. Exercise your intellect and challenge your way of thinking by engaging with people who do not share your viewpoint and perspective.

Adapted from Nine Ways to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone, by Dennis McCafferty at CIO Insight. Follow CIO Insight on Twitter