Feels Good, But it May be Hazardous to Your Career
Freelance web writer John Wood here as your guest editor of The Writer’s Life this week.
I’d like to kick things off with an important lesson I learned after having my worst sales day ever.
One of them anyway.
It was back in the days when I was selling steak and seafood out of the back of a truck.
My 20 or so steak and seafood colleagues and I would canvas industrials malls, office buildings, and standalone businesses looking for people who were open to the idea of buying steak and seafood from a guy who drove around with steak and seafood in the back of his truck.
There were no territories. The plus side was you could solicit anywhere you wanted.
The downside was, between my colleagues and the competition, it was sometimes hard to find businesses that hadn't been recently canvassed.
Our head office was in Mississauga, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto).
One particular morning, I had the brilliant idea of driving up to Owen Sound to try my luck. Owen Sound is approximately 170 kilometers (107 miles) away, near Georgian Bay.
I figured the chances were pretty slim that anyone would have already visited the area.
So I set off.
It took me a couple of hours to get there.
When I arrived in town, I parked my truck on a side street.
To my left, I saw a lady through a shop window. I chose her to be my first "sales victim." I can't remember exactly what her store sold, but I do remember there was no one else in the store but me when I entered.
I approached her with my usual "steak and seafood swagger."
We exchanged greetings. I told her about the restaurant-quality steak and seafood I had on my truck and just how lucky she was that she'd finally met me.
She told me she wasn't interested.
"I just bought half a cow and I've got a whole freezer full of steaks at home."
As for seafood, she wasn't a fan.
I asked her if most people in the area had half a cow in their freezers.
She told me they did.
As I was leaving her store, a sense of doom crept over me.
"How could I have been so stupid?" I thought to myself.
This is farm country. People have more steaks in this town than they'll ever need. They could eat steak three times a day, seven days a week and they'd still have enough left over to feed the entire Polish army.
Instead of selling her, I'd let her sell me on the notion that no one in the Owen Sound area would ever want to buy any steaks from me. That they all had cows in their freezers. I'd already imagined how they were going to respond even before I asked them the question.
I forgot entirely about my USP (Unique Selling Proposition). That the steak and seafood I sold was high-quality stuff. It was all de-boned, de-fatted and de-licious. A cut above what you could get from the local butcher when you buy half a Holstein from him.
So I hopped back in my truck and I drove the two hours back to Mississauga.
I was so bummed out, instead of making any more sales calls, I just went home.
When I look back on it now, I realize my sales truck was my "comfort zone."
The easiest thing in the world was to drive around in it.
Being in my comfort zone meant I didn't have to sell anything, which meant I didn't have to face rejection or the condescending glares of receptionists who, for whatever reason, didn't think selling steak and seafood was the noblest of professions.
But, of course, it was only when I got out of my comfort zone that I made any money.
During my tenure at the company, more often than not, I managed to make my weekly quota.
I forced myself to get out of my "comfort zone" and take action. Sure, the actions opened me up for the rejection and judgment I feared, but I was rewarded in the end.
It's the same with anything in life, really.
To really succeed at anything and be the best that you can be, you have to get out of your comfort zone.
Which means taking risks and doing things you don't necessarily feel comfortable doing.
In a blog post from November of last year, Brian Tracy wrote the following …
"Superior men and women are always stretching themselves, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones. They are very aware how quickly the comfort zone, in any area, becomes a rut. They know that complacency is the great enemy of creativity and future possibilities."
He goes on to say that getting out of your comfort zone will make you "feel awkward and uncomfortable" at first. But once you get a feel for it, it's only then that you will develop "a new comfort zone at a new, higher level of competence."
What about you?
Have you been or are you currently a victim of your comfort zone?
If so, what did you do to break out of it? I'd love to hear from you. You can post your comments below. I also recommend you check out an article I wrote recently called 14 Tips on How to Achieve More by Living Outside of Your Comfort Zone.
It will help you get outside of your own comfort zone and move you closer towards achieving the writer’s life you’ve always dreamed of.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »