Are you afraid to get out of your comfort zone and rather remain in your safe zone in whatever you are doing, whether it is in your personal life, giving a speech in front of people or at work? In the safe zone you don’t have to worry about what others think because you are not putting yourself out there. You are safe, secure and non-threatening.
Unfortunately, you are not likely to grow personally and professionally by being in the safe zone.. If you are lucky, occasionally the only you will ever get out of your safe zone is if you are forced out of it. Leaving the safe zone is hard and uncomfortable, but later you will have no regrets that you did it and perhaps good things may start happening to you.
A great example of this comes from the movie “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” In this scene, Julianne Potter (played by Julia Roberts) is trying to break up a wedding of her ex-boyfriend Michael (played by Dermot Mulroney) by making her fiancee Kimmy (played by Cameron Diaz) look bad by taking her to a Karaoke bar since Julianne knows that Kimmy hates karaoke bars and is going to be way out of her comfort zone.
When a woman at the bar asks Kimmy to sing, Julianne makes an empty gesture to Michael to not let Kimmy take the mic, pretending to save Julianne from a big embarrassment. Michael is persistent since he thinks Kimmy is just being shy. He does not know that Kimmy hates karaoke. Julianne gets control of the mic and, instead of singing, introduces Kimmy and hands her the mic. Her plan is working perfect and is about to get her wish.
Unfortunately for Julianne, life is not that predictable when you have to depend on the audience for your wily plan to succeed.
Kimmy, to avoid making a big scene, reluctantly grabs the mic and slowly starts singing a song, “I just don’t know what to do with myself,” by Dusty Springfield. Kimmy is obviously nervous and doesn’t want to be there, but it's too late as the audience starts encouraging her to sing. She has the mic, and the audience wants to be "fed."
Kimmy starts singing and everyone, including Michael, are horrified at how pitiful she is at singing. The audience gets very quiet. She soldiers on and then the audience, seeing her vulnerability, suddenly starts rooting for her. They start cheering for Kimmy’s “humanness” and were quickly won over by her making an effort and showing her vulnerability. Michael was won over too at how Kimmy handled herself. The only person who was disappointed was Julianne since her crafty plan to make Kimmy look bad worked but failed to get the desired outcome she had hoped for. Michael was not going to dump Kimmy for Julianne. Game over!
Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, in the epilogue of his book, “You Are The Message,” writes about how Judy Garland in her twilight years could not hit the high notes because of old age, illness, alcohol and drugs. Yet she had a loyal following. The audience could identify with her and was always rooting for her during her performance because of her “humanness.” She could have easily stayed out of concert halls, but her audience didn't care. They were entertained by just seeing Judy Garland being her true self. They were not there to just to hear her singing ability at this point in her career. They liked her for making an effort and they still saw Dorothy Gale in her from the movie, "The Wizard of Oz."
Ailes writes that when you are in front of an audience and “if you can get the audience to pull for you, you’ll always win. After all, audience are just like you. They’re human. They care. They’re sympathetic. They’re supportive. The audience wants you to succeed. Show them that you care.”
All you have to do is accept your vulnerability and handle your "fall" with grace and people will judge you more on that then any award you win. I have not seen Jenniifer Lawrence in any movies, but just by the way she handled herself at the Oscars, we all saw a movie star that we can all identify with. And her most viewed performance didn't even require her great acting skills but her ability to handle her vulnerability with utmost grace.
Next time don’t listen to your inner voice when it tries to stop you from going outside your comfort zone. Who knows? You will not only survive but even thrive. And at worse, you will have a good story to tell others for making an effort. Or if someone records it, you may even make an appearance on "America's Funniest.Home Videos." At the end, no one cares; you will be proud of the way you handled yourself under a difficult situation and just move on.
Jay Oza is a founder and principal innovation development consultant at 5ToolGroup, a company that specializes in helping startups and established firms bring innovation to market within 90 days through our unique 5Tool Methodology that integrates sales, marketing, partnerships, customer development and agile/lean methodology to enable frugal or ("Jugaad") innovation. We believe that to succeed today, you have to continuously look for ways to do lot more with lot less. This is the only way to win today!