Why You Should Get Out and Stay Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you’re doing it right, building a business, or a great life, should be an adventure. And the more open you are to adventure, the more likely you are to build a great business or life.

Last Wednesday morning, I agreed to get on an airplane to go have dinner with someone I had never met, along with his team. He had emailed me only two days before for the first time, and we never talked personally until I was on the way to the airport. I was to fly back home early the next morning.

I had exactly 21 minutes’ notice to make the flight reservation, get someone to stay overnight with my dog (my wife was out of state), find a ride, shower and get dressed, pack my bag, and leave for the airport. While my business partner Krista drove, I shaved and ate breakfast in the car (who doesn’t?). She got only 10 minutes’ notice to pick me up.

We were just pulling into the airport when our new friend called and apologized—he had to go to the hospital with high blood pressure—a precautionary move, but necessary. So we just turned around, and I canceled the flight by phone on the drive home. I told him I could fly out the next day or Friday if his issue was a false alarm. I knew I could be making another reservation the next day on a few minutes’ notice.

All this wasn’t as big a deal as it sounds. When you live outside your comfort zone, stuff like this is just another fun adventure, and part of building a great business.

It’s all relative. The farther you live outside your comfort zone, the more semi-crazy stuff won’t seem so crazy to you.

How Far Will You Go to Achieve Your Dreams?

Last year I flew deep into central Africa, with three days’ notice, to meet a major chief who hadn’t agreed to see a Westerner for many years. I was going alone to a country where I didn’t even speak the national language, let alone the tribal language of the area I would be visiting. I had never been within 1,000 miles of where I was going. And I had no preplanned interpreter—we would just have to figure it out.

Three continents, four airplanes, and five countries later (33 hours), I landed, got on another 737, flew 90 minutes inland, got in a bush plane, and flew another couple of hours to a gravel landing strip. I was ushered into a very beat-up old Land Rover, with the local chief and seven other locals (yes, nine of us).

We got to the local chief’s remote village and found just one guy who had spent some time in an English-speaking country who could help me communicate at least a little. He didn’t speak much English at all, but good enough to break barriers.

I hadn’t slept more than a couple of hours in two days, but at 8:00 p.m. that same night, we were told we would be heading out to meet the major chief. Seven locals and I continued into the bush on four old dirt bikes. The way was pitch black, with no road, and it rained intermittently all night. The ground was very muddy. I rode for eight and a half hours, hanging on to the back of the dirt bike. We had two flats, and I fell off twice. The driver was better at this; he only fell off once. We couldn’t talk, but we built a good relationship anyway. I pushed the bike up washes and walked down embankments as much as I rode.

At 4:30 a.m., before sunup, we rolled into the Stone Age village and were ushered off to bed. Three hours later I awoke to someone who ushered me off to a big ceremonial breakfast with the chief. We communicated awkwardly for a couple of hours. Then others walked me around the tiny, thatched-hut village, meeting people for most of the day. We met back with the chief around 4 p.m., talked for another hour, and signed some papers.

An hour later, as it was getting dark, we were back on the dirt bikes. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining that night, but we went out a different way than we came in, for security reasons. Instead of being an eight and a half hour trip, it was 10. I slept for five hours in the bigger village, and then reversed back out via the Land Rover, bush plane, 737, and transcontinental flights. The whole trip took four and a half days, and in that time I probably slept 12 hours until the flight back. It was a great trip—well worth it. I’m guessing there isn’t another person alive who could tell this story—what a privilege.

Stretched Out, Not Stressed Out

I shared that trip so you can see why a last-minute flight to another U.S. city, which was canceled right before boarding, is no big deal. The more we stretch ourselves, the less we will feel stretched.
When we live safe, secure, and stable lives, where every day looks the same, all we ensure is that nothing remarkable happens. When we live stretched out (not stressed out) lives, things that otherwise might seem like a big deal are much more within our grasp. People who live stressed-out lives are always reacting to what others want them to do. People who live stretched-out lives will react quickly when it fits their goals.

Get out, and stay out, of your comfort zone. It just might allow you to do things other people think are crazy or stressful that will give you the edge in a world where nobody seems to want to take a risk anymore.

Be clear about your dreams. Look for adventure. Live stretched out. Take a risk. Have a story.

Article as seen on Inc.com