The risks of staying comfortable

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The risks of staying comfortable

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When you ask someone the key to their success, you may get a plethora of answers: hard work, luck, good connections, it’s all in the wrist.  When you ask the women of the Simmons Leadership Conference how they got to where they are, you will likely get one kind of response: step outside your comfort zone.

Being comfortable in where you stand can be fine, but at what point does being fine turn into settling and not wanting more for yourself?  Sometimes even success can be a limiting factor.  After completing an accomplishment people may choose to linger on that one success, and rather than risk doing something new and failing, they stay stagnant in that one prior gain.

This is one of those times where it is key to keep moving, and keep trying. As Mel Robbins, a CNN correspondent and motivational speaker put it, “It is impossible not to fail in life, so go out and do it. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.” Dawn Hudson, Marketing Officer of the NFL, said in her keynote speech, “When things are hardest, that’s when you learn the most.”

Sally Field described a moment when she fired her agent on the spot. While she was looking for serious film roles, he told her she wasn’t pretty or good enough to make it in film. She responded by firing him and going on to win two Academy Awards for Best Actress. When her husband at the time doubted her, she gave him the boot as well.

This isn’t to say go out there and try things we have no chance at accomplishing, it just means we have to challenge ourselves.  If the idea of failing is a fear-inducing one, think of failures more as lessons.  In our day-to-day lives we are constantly learning from our mistakes.  Failing fast just means learning faster and figuring out what does work.

Field remarked over and over during her speech, “If you’re not reaching for something you’re dying.”

Those who succeed never stop trying, even though for some, success might come later in life. Signature Speaker Darlene Love spoke about working as a waitress and a cruise ship worker throughout trying to make it as a singer. Even after signing as a background singer for musicians like Elvis and Marvin Gaye, she didn’t find success as a solo artist until her forties. Now, at age 73, she’s won an Academy Award for the documentary “20 Feet from Stardom” and Oprah Winfrey has announced she is producing a biopic on her life. “I urge you everybody,” Love said. “Never ever give up on your dream.”

We can’t just sit around thinking about how we should challenge ourselves, there has to be action.  Many of the speakers spoke out against motivation, saying that it doesn’t exist.  You could be the most motivated person in the world, but if you’re not putting your thoughts into action, you might as will be left in the dust.

In the book “The Confidence Code,” the authors mention how when applying for jobs, women will only go after them when they feel that they are 100 percent qualified for the job, while their male counterparts will do so knowing they’re only about 60 percent qualified for the same job.

More risks need to be taken and our fears need to be quelled.  In the case of applying for a job in which one might feel under qualified, it is important to take a step back and look at the possible outcomes.  In the worst-case scenario, you don’t get the job. That’s it. The sky doesn’t start to fall, and your friends and family don’t turn their backs on you. You are now on your way to applying to the next job.

“What do you have to lose when you push yourself out of the envelope?” Field demanded, encouraging the audience to own themselves and pursue their dreams. “I didn’t know what my dreams were until I saw that they were possible.”

Trying and failing will always trump not trying and never knowing what could have been; living a life of what-ifs is no life at all.