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Risk and Win! 10 Things to Nudge You Out of Your Comfort Zone!

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Risk and Win! 10 Things to Nudge You Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Same ol’, same ol’…get up, go to work, get home, handle dinner and get ready to go to bed so you can get up and do the same thing again.

And yet some people don’t do that. They live exciting lives filled with new experiences and exciting things to look forward to. They jet off to different places and you never know what they might be doing next.

How did these people escape the daily grind? How did they get so lucky?

There is a secret…wanna hear it?

The secret is discomfort. That’s right discomfort and the tolerance thereof. Because the actual truth of the matter is that if you never step out of your comfortable routine, your life doesn’t change for the better.

Now I don’t recommend that you simply go out and make yourself uncomfortable simply to be uncomfortable. It is not the discomfort that makes one successful but the willingness to experience discomfort in the process of creating something altogether new.

Let’s call it “Focused Discomfort”; Discomfort as a byproduct of taking calculated risks and doing something amazing.

Now before you go out and immerse yourself in random discomfort, let’s take a look at certain focused discomforts that you should be revelling in:

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1) Commit yourself

That is some serious discomfort! It takes guts to really commit to a course of action. It takes a certain confidence that you will overcome any obstacle to completing the thing you set out to do. But if you don’t commit to anything, you drift along like an idle tide not really knowing what to do or where to go.

Success in life depends on commitment to many courses of action and the persistence to see them through. If you want to make it really exciting, brag about how great you are at whatever it is you have committed yourself to. I can guarantee some sleepless nights, but who knows what you might pull off!

2) Risk being rejected

I have another secret for you. If you reach out to someone with a genuine desire to be friendly and you are rebuffed, it has nothing to do with you unless you are really creepy, and I am doubting that you are.

If you have a sincere desire to make someone’s life better by interacting and they rebuff you, they are a pretty unhappy person. Ignore the rebuff and go reach out to someone else. There are a lot more people who will accept you than will rebuff you, and those who rebuff you aren’t worth losing sleep over.

3) Risk starting your own venture

Wow! When you think about it, you can start anything you want! You can start a choir, a movie group, an ice cream store, a bakery! The list is endless!

It is a big undertaking and there is risk, but risk is mitigated by knowledge. The more knowledge you have about the venture you are creating, the less risk there is.

Starting a new venture is always occasioned by some discomfort, but there are also highs that you can only experience by doing it. The creation of something new and wonderful is a huge high point in life. Don’t deny yourself, but do educate yourself before making a leap.

4) Risk going after your dreams

I am betting that there is at least one person out there making money doing what you dream of doing. If this is the case, then why aren’t YOU doing it? Is it because someone told you that it was not a “safe” profession, that it was not “stable” financially? Well, I have news. Nothing is safe and nothing is stable.  So you may as well do something you love.

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When you have a passion for something, you get really good at it. And if even one person is making money doing it, that means that other people are willing to pay for it. If people are willing to pay for it, you can make money doing it. You just have to figure out how. The best way to do that is to talk to those who have and do what they did.

One example of this is music. You hear music everywhere at all hours of the day or night and yet, if you wanted to leave your job and be a musician, you would likely hear that it is a poor choice and that you can’t make money doing it.

Well, someone is making money from it because it is everywhere. You can, too!

5) Close your ears to what people say

People say all kinds of useless junk. A lot of it makes so little sense that you wonder how anyone in their right mind can talk about of their rear ends like that.

Every single course of action you are going to take, if you told everyone you knew about it, would generate nays from naysayers no matter what it was.

The bottom line is that no one knows your capabilities, creativity and your drive more than you do. You know what you are doing. When naysayers pop up naying, nod your head and keep going. They shut up after they see that you are doing it.

My friend Sally Nutter and I started a radio show. We were amazed at the amount of negativity we received in the first few weeks, but, after we kept at it for a few months, everyone shut up. We now have tons of listeners and get new ones every week. If we gave up at the first sign of negativity, we would not be having the fun we are having right now and it is great fun!

6) Do things you cannot do

I don’t know about anyone else, but I work best under pressure.  I can do anything if I have committed to it. This includes learning something really fast so that I can do it. I have committed to stuff that I have never done before simply because I wanted to do it.

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Many years ago, I taught myself to play the cello. Weirdly and somewhat randomly, some people from the local symphony were walking by and heard me practicing. They asked me right then to play with the symphony for the next season.

I had played violin in orchestras, but never the cello. And I had only been sawing away on the cello for about four months.  “How hard can it be?” I thought. Well, after I printed out the music, I saw exactly how hard it was going to be. I freaked out but then I spent many hours a day working on it and listening to different versions of it over and over again until I knew the music by heart.

Now that was really hard and I will not lightly commit to that again (Or maybe I will!) but guess what? I now play the cello in the symphony. If I had not been such a dork and accepted, I might still be practicing to someday join the symphony.

7) Try learning something completely new

Oh yeah! and then there was the time I took up snowboarding at an advanced age. I had been watching these kids whipping up and down the slopes on their snowboards and I really wanted to do it, too. I spent the whole morning falling, getting up and mostly rolling around like a turtle on its back. Later that day I took a snowboarding class and honestly I don’t think I got any better.

I made it through the day and was completely exhausted. Later that evening I have never been so sore in all my life. After that experience I decided that snowboarding was not going to be one of my new passions. I could have learned it and gotten good at it but honestly I didn’t really care to.

At least now I know that this is not something I love and can put my attention on something else.

8) Lose your heart

I have done this many times. I lose my heart to my students and immediately to people I meet. Most of all I lose my heart when I go visit the animal shelter. I never fail to come home with a new little dog in my arms. I have three now and I love them all.

We are put here on this earth to love each other and to lose our hearts to each other. If we have lost that ability, it just means that we have been hurt a lot. But oddly, losing your heart is the thing that heals you.

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Don’t hold back your affinity. The world needs it and you will be amazed at how rich life is when you love with everything you have.

9) Eat something unusual

I have one rule with regard to food items or those things disguised as food items.

RULE ONE: I never eat anything that I would not willingly step on in my bare feet.

Beyond that everything is fair game! This little rule gets me out of the awkward, “Oh here we are in France, we must try snails!” moment.

Just because someone, at some particularly low period in history ate something strange and then dipped it in garlic butter and called it a delicacy, does not mean that I have to eat it when I am there.

The bottom of my shoe tastes great when dipped in garlic butter, as does a paper towel or anything that has the capacity to soak up garlic butter. Give me some bread. I will happily step on that in bare feet unless it is toasted and carved into a particularly pointy shape. Even then I can do it carefully. Snails? Nope, not even a little bit!

10) Quit thinking up junk to worry about!

I know, we feel better when we worry! at least we know we are alert to possible dangers; but how would it feel to stop worrying just for a moment? Dare we try it? Go ahead, tell yourself it’s all good. I think you could get used to it.

My dad was an engineer, a PHD in fluid dynamics, which is the science of seeing how air flows over airplane wings. He designed aircraft. I flew with him once and he was a nervous wreck. He was convinced that it was only his white knuckles pulling upward on the arm rests that was keeping the plane in the air.

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Our worry is not what keeps bad things from happening. It only keeps happiness from happening. Little by little we should just let go. I will if you will! Close your eyes and do it!

Good Luck!

More by this author

Chris Ellis

Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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