Life Begins Outside Your Comfort Zone by Martin Brossman

I’m a success coach, speaker, and author.  I work with small business owners and professionals to amplify their message, their brand, their presence, and their success on the web and on the ground.  Since I left IBM in ‘95, I’ve been helping people become unstoppable, so that no matter what happens in their businesses or in their lives, they keep moving forward.   

I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned from my 25 years of experience about moving forward through adversity and making things happen, whether you’re so busy you can’t think straight or you’re in a slump.

In this context, I’ve observed that people fall into one of two continuums: either everything is going well & they’re operating in their comfort zone, or things are not going well & they’re stuck.  I refer to the first one as a rut, which I define as a casket with the ends kicked out, and the second as a complete breakdown where they’re paralyzed like a stunned deer.  

I believe that life is most fulfilling for the majority of us when we’re leaning into life with a sense of urgency so that it’s more like riding a fun roller coaster than sitting in a boat on a calm pond or floating silently like a lily pad.  My passion is helping people find their way to their own powerful momentum.

Years ago on a tour of Zen monasteries in Japan (in the early 80’s), I asked the guide, who was wearing a professional blazer and carrying a little tour guide flag, about the stacks upon stacks of unopened barrels of Saki I saw there.  Imagine visiting an American church with unopened stacks of barrels of beer!  She explained how they would be opened at the semi-annual celebration.  

Sake Barrels
Sake Barrels

I said, “so the monks meditate about six months up here in the mountains eating very simple food, living very simple lives…then you have a rip-roaring party with the entire town where you run through with giant torches, almost burn the place down & get completely plastered.  Then the monks come back and meditate for another six months?!”  She replied in her very soft, polite voice, “that is correct.”

Japanese Tour Guide
Japanese Tour Guide

For me, it was such an eye-opener because up until then, I believed life was about maintaining the perfect balance. The Japanese monks taught me that life doesn’t come at us in perfect balance. 

Real life is more like a roller coaster than a tranquil pond — those who find a way to enjoy the roller coaster see it as an adventure.  Of course, life is rife with danger, but with a slight adjustment in our perception, we can reframe our fear and turn that energy into fuel for our business.

Back in 2008 when the market collapsed, I asked expert Realtor Linda Craft what she planned to do.  She said, “the same thing I did in 2001 — I asked myself, ‘how do we succeed now and how do we make money now?’”  At that moment I remember thinking that complacency can be as dangerous to a business and to a person as a national disaster.

The key to avoiding the danger of either kind is to check where you are on the continuum on a regular basis.  How do we do that?  We put safeguards in place for when disaster strikes —  we need to do the same to avoid complacency.  What do we do to keep ourselves on our edge, invigorated & excited?

I was honored with an invitation to speak at my university’s senior business class about entrepreneurship, where I gave the students an assortment of quotations that I wrote.  The one that grabbed most of their attention was, “If your life is boring it’s because you are boring — life begins outside your comfort zone,” which illustrates the importance of pushing beyond normal, everyday routines. 

T-Shirt (Available on Amazon)

What do you do to push yourself outside your comfort zone?  What do you do to keep yourself on your edge?   

Ham Radio is my hobby; I recently passed my advanced amateur radio license exam and began trying to learn Morse Code, for which I have no aptitude, but I got a lot out of trying.  Find something you’d love to master then give yourself time to practice and permission to fail.  Failure is the fertile ground where confidence is born.  

I’ve observed too many young people whose parents didn’t give them enough opportunities to fail and get up afterward, which is the best doorway to self-confidence.  If you always win, you don’t understand boundaries, you don’t know your real strengths, you can’t grasp the meaning of a win.  If you win all the time then you never build trust in yourself or in the natural process of life.  Failure teaches us what our gift to the world is.  Adversity teaches us what we’re made of, so to speak.    

What are the barriers to staying on our edge?  Being busy, for one; letting constant activity pass for purposeful action.  Another is letting your focus veer off your mission by asking the wrong question of yourself.  In my experience, the successful person asks themselves “what will it take for me to make it?” and the unsuccessful person asks, “am I going to make it?”

During my years of coaching, it’s been fascinating to find that most people stop themselves even though success is within their reach. The most common obstacle to success can also be the most effective resource, depending on the person’s mindset.

What will it take?  First, you must start challenging your beliefs about what you can & can’t do.  But I don’t mean forget the laws of gravity or physics!  For example, if you have a child with special needs, you may not be able to suddenly quit a job with health insurance benefits; you may take a longer path to make sure that the child’s needs are met.  You can stay focused on your dream and stay grounded in reality.

Start exploring what you would really like to do, then look into what it would take to get there.  You might find that it morphs into a fulfilling hobby on the side while you keep your primary job, or you might discover a different position in a similar field.  No matter where you go, you will grow from the experience of standing in new possibilities while keeping your feet on the ground.  By moving forward like this, step by step you will stimulate your creative juices and develop discipline at the same time.

Many years ago while I worked for IBM I practiced coaching with some co-op students.  I worked with one named Sanford Tally who wanted to have his own radio station.  After a few years passed I found out that he didn’t get what he’d wanted despite all the planning we had done.  I was concerned that we were not successful.  

When I asked him about it Sanford said that through our work together he realized he did not want all the responsibility and hassles of a radio station, he really wanted the autonomy that he thought at first a radio station would give him. This realization led him to create his own technology security business that he still enjoys today. 

I had a co-worker named Tyler at IBM who was also a talented guitarist.  At the time I didn’t know much about playing music but I appreciated his gift for playing and he generously helped me build my coaching skills.  He replied, “well, I haven’t really thought about it but sure, let’s go for it.”  Tyler knew he wanted to help fellow musicians but he had no idea in what way.  We filled a big whiteboard with a map of his dream of owning a studio where small bands could practice and perform.  

Sadly, years later Tyler died in a motorcycle accident.  As I sat at his funeral, I listened to his loved ones describe his accomplishments.  What I heard matched what we had put on that whiteboard!  I choked up, realizing the significance of asking him the question, “what do you really want?”  Even though Tyler’s life was cut short, he got to do the thing he wanted most.  We should all be so lucky.  Expressing gratitude moves us forward no matter where we are.

We can either transform our relationship with (or shift our perception of) adversity or be enslaved by it.  We can either stay in our comfort zones or go for what really rings our bells.  Plenty of people have regrets; regardless of the outcome. Most people regret the chances they let pass them by. Very few regret the chances they’ve taken.  

My mission with success coaching, speaking, training, and the social media management certificate program is to help people lead such meaningful lives that on their own deathbed they will be moved to tears by the life they’ve lived.  Whether I’m helping a doctor become more likable with his patients and increase his practice, or I’m helping a sales coach exceed his quota so he can spend more time with his family, we’re focusing on playing a bigger game & living a larger life, a life full of vitality & excitement.

My coaching practice is based on referrals; I take on a limited number of clients at one time.  In addition, I post a lot of free content; if you’re interested, Google me and check out my website Martin Brossman & Associates LLC | Supporting individuals ….

To schedule Success Coaching with Martin Brossman call 919-847-4757 and select option 1.

Link to T-Shirt “If your life is boring, it’s because you’re boring”

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