Have you ever had that inclination to do something a little out of your comfort zone? Ask a question at a business conference, ask someone out on a date, give a generous contribution to a charity, call an old friend you haven’t seen in twenty years, strike up a conversation with an interesting stranger? You start taking that first step out of your comfort zone, but you hesitate. Something holds you back. What is it?
According to Tedx Talk speaker Mel Robins, that thing that’s screwing you over could be five seconds.
Robins claims studies have shown that if you wait 5 seconds after the initial impulse hits, you probably never act on it. Most people hit the emergency brake. They don’t go through with the idea because they hesitate a few seconds too long.
Why does your mind want to talk you out of making a move that could be risky? Protecting your ego is one of the most important jobs our conscious minds can do. What if I look like a fool? What if I don’t say the right words? What if I want to take it back? What if she thinks I’m a kook? So you swerve away from the direct path you were going to take and instead tell yourself some other excuse: You need to study more, you should mind your own business, you’re not ready, you’ll look too pushy, you don’t deserve this. You’ll be rejected.
By not doing that thing your instinct told you to do, you ruin your chances of something really great happening! How will you ever know? As you retreat, you’ll comfort yourself that you are staying safe, while you simultaneously kick yourself for not being a little bolder.
“Next time,” you think.
Although I’m a believer in “next times,” — it’s where grace does it’s best work — I also know that momentum is the driver for success. Doors open when your heart is inclining in a certain direction, but doors blow off their hinges for the person who’s moving so fast they don’t have time to pay attention to thoughts of hesitation. One thing I know for sure is that the brass ring comes around fast, and time doesn’t slow down for you to grab it. You have to go for it, even if it means making a fool of yourself, or the moment passes.
If a motive to do something bold comes from goodwill, altruism, or curiosity, you need to act before you talk yourself out of it. Because, you will, you know. Your rational mind will come up with all sorts of reasons why right now is not a good time.
Most of us put too much emphasis on thinking things through. I’m not talking about blustering your way through every encounter and pushing your agenda on people, but rather, acting on a passionately held thought or idea that opens a line of communication. The only way you’ll ever know if your message is well received is if you get out there on that limb and see. Do the experiement. Get out of your head and act on your instinct.
A couple of weeks ago I ordered some workout clothes from a website. I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea, but haven’t made time to shop in quite awhile, and I knew that if I did get around to it, I’d buy new gym shoes, not a cute workout outfit. So I ordered a plum tank top and matching yoga pants online. When I received them, they didn’t fit it; too long and skinny for my little sparkplug bod. I tried selling the combo on our local Facebook swap page at 50% off what I paid, but I got no bites. So what would you do with this brand-new (really pretty) athletic outfit? I figured it would sit around my office until I thought of a friend with the right body type who who might happen to like it. Who knows how long that could be?
The other day in Body Jam I noticed this gal with long legs who looked like exactly the type of body that would rock this outfit. The only thing was, I had never talked to this woman before in my life. I only ever saw her at the gym for Body Jam classes and she kept to herself, never chatting with others before or after class. As we were leaving the workout room that day a thought hit me. “Just go over there, introduce yourself, and offer to give it to her because really, it’ll sit there with tags until it goes out of style.” Suddenly I felt really shy, and thought, “What a stupid idea. Who does that?” But you know what? I went ahead and opened the conversation.
“I hope you don’t think this is too strange, but I have to tell you something…” and she was very gracious. She smiled and said sure, she’d be happy to try it on. And that was that. We exchanged names and agreed to see each other next time. No big deal. In fact, I felt pretty good about the whole thing.
Now, I don’t know if she’ll take me up on my gift, but I do know that in that one moment I made the acquaintance of someone to whom I’d never spoken before (a plus); I may have found a home for that beautiful purple outfit (another plus); and I may have even made a new friend (plus, plus)! It’s just a small example of how good it feels to reach out, rather than drive home thinking, “Darn, I really should’ve talked to that gal.”
There’s no better time than right now.
Because you’re building your business, you’re probably seeing many opportunities to do something daring that’s a little bit outside of your comfort zone. Building a business requires this discomfort. but it doesn’t have to feel awkward forever. The more you strengthen this muscle the easier it is to get out of your own head. It takes practice.
Start by doing one uncomfortable thing thing every day. I recommend following through with a spontaneous act just when the idea swoops in and makes itself known to you. This is actually very easy because the idea is new; it doesn’t require the same level of courage and momentum for something you’ve been ruminating on for weeks. Just do this small thing whenever it occurs to you, and move without thinking.
Remember, if you don’t act within 5 seconds of that first hunch, you’re likely to talk yourself out of it. Don’t waste the moment. You’ve heard it said that money loves speed. I think it also loves generosity, a well-intentioned heart, and friendliness. You are more than ready with the skills and gifts you already have. Don’t think too hard about acting on your authentic spark when you want to connect with other people.
When you move quickly and naturally, admitting when you’re goofy, bold, not sure of all the facts (but willing to get them), sharing what you know to be true with confidence and a positive attitude; when you act freely the universe lines up to work in your favor. You don’t have to be polished and smooth as a gemstone to have the effect you want, just willing to be dropped into the great polisher of life — relationships with other people.
Success comes from knowing who you are, what you have to offer, and what you’re most curious about. Furthermore, success comes with speed and fluidity when you act on those divine impulses, even if it’s little uncomfortable. Practice this and it gets easier every time you try. Fringe benefit: you’ll become a happier, more charismatic person.
Fling aside hestitaion and go for bold instead.
Acrobat: Flickr: U.S. Army