Beliefs keep us stuck in our comfort zone.
I knew that I was hopeless at languages. After all, at school, I had been advised not to take a course in German, and I had failed my French O’Level quite spectacularly, twice.
Later, while working for a French company, I ended up spending some months on a placement in France, and when I arrived back in England I discovered to my amazement that I was now placed in the “advanced” language class!
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”
~ Ralf Waldo Emerson
What I learned from that experience was that from school days I had developed a belief that “I was hopeless at languages”. It had been instilled in me by teachers and reinforced by results. But, that belief wasn’t serving me well, and it was actually responsible for holding me back from moving forward in my career.
To illustrate this point, let me give you another example. As a teenager I had been really fit and active, playing many different sports from rugby to cycling to hammer throwing, and I loved the activity and team dynamics. Hardly a day went by when I wasn’t doing one activity or another, and I even managed to obtain some paid work as a skating instructor for a few years.
Then after I graduated and started work, got married and started a family, I seemed to find less and less time to be involved in any kind of sports, and when I did have the time it wasn’t sufficiently often to allow me to participate in any kind of team game that needed regular attendance. So my health habits declined until I found myself carrying quite a lot of extra weight. I decided that maybe since I was past my 20s and into my 30s now I should just accept this new version of me.
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
~ Brian Tracey
One day, however, after catching sight of my quite portly figure in some summer holiday photos I decided it was about time to do something about it. I contacted a friend of mine who I knew had managed to lose over 11 stone in weight (that’s over 150 lbs for our American friends), slimming down from 26 to 15 stone. in just over a year. It turned out that he had joined a slimming club and that had given him the support he needed to start and persevere with a slimming program. Well, I found that I believed that if it worked for him it could work for me, so I joined my local club and started getting along once a week after work.
For me though, and maybe it was just the group I was attending, I didn’t really enjoy or look forward to the group meetings after the first few, and although this had got me started it wasn’t going to get me to my target. It had helped me to start a change in mindset, to get started on the journey, and I had lost quite a lot of weight in a few weeks, but I didn’t yet fully believe I could achieve the results I was after.
“Find your comfort zone. Then leave it.”
~ Robert Kiosaki
After a few weeks I decided to join a local gym instead of attending the slimming club, and before long I was enjoying getting along for a short workout every lunchtime during the week. I was now seeing some really great results both in fitness and weight loss and I was feeling so much better in myself, and now I was starting to believe that I could achieve the target I needed to reach to regain a healthy level of fitness and weight.
It was the next step that really made all the difference though. That was when I decided to start cycling to work every day, and before long I had settled into a routine for my commute that became a daily habit. Initially, the route to work was just 10 miles each way, and then after moving house it had extended to over 15 miles each way, and most days I used a route that was some 20 miles each way, and much longer on sunny summer evenings.
“The sooner you step away from your comfort zone you’ll realise that it really wasn’t that comfortable.”
~ Eddie Harris Jr.
I had changed my belief that I would have to accept the overweight version of myself and now had a new belief that I could once again be fit and healthy. You see, like habits, our beliefs are stored in our subconscious mind. This means that by definition they are below the level of our consciousness. That means that we are not necessarily aware of what we believe until we (or a good coach) question our beliefs, and we are able to change our beliefs to support a new reality.
“Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Get confident being uncertain. Don’t give up just because something is hard. Pushing through challenges is what makes you grow.”
~ Jules Marcoux
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.