Most of us spend our lives trying to “get comfortable and stay comfortable.” We want a roof over our heads, enough food to eat, a decent car to drive, and enough money that we don’t have to worry about the next mortgage payment. That’s just who we are as human beings.
However, that ingrained need to be comfortable extends into our psyche, and can keep us from growing. We don’t like to feel exposed or vulnerable, so we don’t take chances—we limit our thinking so we can feel safe—even to the point of sabotaging our own success. Unfortunately this often begins when we’re young. Many times it is something our parents pass along without even realizing how they’re setting the stage for us. When we hear things like “Oh, Johnny doesn’t like to read,” or “Sue isn’t good at sports,” those things get hardwired into our mental attitudes and before you know it, they become limiting beliefs that keep us from reaching our true potential.
In fact, most of the limiting beliefs we have as adults stem from negative things we learned as very young children. Things like: “Children should be seen and not heard,” and “Don’t talk to strangers,” become part of our subconscious and color how we approach daily situations and view the future. Do you get sweaty palms at the thought of speaking in public? Are you uncomfortable in networking situations where you don’t know most of the people in the room? Those feelings are manifestations of the limiting beliefs that our subconscious draws upon to “protect” us.
However, as humans, we have the power to change those attitudes and choose something different. Unlike Pavlov’s dog, which cannot unlearn conditioned behavior, we can recognize those “fixed-mindset” patterns and develop new ones—and that applies to us as individuals, and to the brands we represent as marketers.
Basically, we can do this in two steps. The first step is learning to change our attitudes—how we respond to people and events that are beyond our control. The second step is going a bit further and developing those positive attitudes into habits that become our new mindset.
There is a great book I discovered shortly after I was divorced and was trying to learn how to motivate my girls. It’s called Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck, and I highly recommend it to anyone who feels “stuck,” and wants to understand how to break free of the attitudes that keep you in your comfort zone and limit your success.
Everyone wants more success in their life and in their business, yet many of us are secretly afraid of it. We might fail, and we associate failure with all kinds of negative things, so we won’t allow ourselves to go there. But have you ever heard of someone who achieved success by playing it safe and doing the same things over and over? It’s impossible. You have to reach, try new things and break out of old patterns. In short, you have to get uncomfortable, because only then can true growth happen.
There’s a quote on my Twitter profile that pretty well sums up the benefits of breaking out of limiting patterns. It says “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass… it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Have you tested the boundaries of your comfort zone? What are some limiting beliefs that you feel are holding you back? Discover them and make a conscious effort to cross those barriers. Give yourself time to make it work and I guarantee you will be thrilled with the results.