You’ve probably seen this picture before:
It creates the impression that we need to be somewhere we’re not. So, we try to follow the advice we hear in self-help books.
“Escape your comfort zone”
“Approach ten strangers at a bar”
This is so far from where most of us are, that we won’t even be able to try it.
Then, we feel that we’ve failed. But in reality, it’s the self-help books and “break your comfort zone”-mantra that’s wrong. There’s actually a better way that doesn’t need weird and extreme changes in your behavior.
What we want to do is to challenge ourselves to do things we think is exciting, maybe even slightly uncomfortable, but not scary.
We want to take small steps – and stay in the right level of our outer comfort zone.
What won’t help you create long term, solid improvements:
- Suddenly trying to become the super social person who talks to everyone in the bar
- Overnight trying to “just be attractive” or “just talk to people”
- “Talk to everyone you meet during an entire day”
What we want to do
What’s a small step you can take outside of our regular behavior?
- Even if you’re currently, say, having a hard time saying hi to the cashier, just give him/her a nod and a smile.
- If you feel uncomfortable telling stories with strangers, first tell stories to friends who you do feel comfortable with.
When you DO feel comfortable telling that story to a friend or smiling towards the cashier, THAT’S when you want to take the next step.
Do you see what’s happening here? We’re not breaking out of our comfort zone, we’re slowly expanding it.
Imagine what would happen if you grow your comfort zone a little every day. Because you think it’s exciting rather than scary, it just grows and grows.
You’re not doing something you don’t want, you’re not doing what scares you, you’re doing what excites you.
Where would you then be, one year from now? What would you be able to do?
- Perhaps you’d become a person who’s able to make effortless conversation with strangers.
- Or, being able to tell a story that grasps everyone’s attention?
- Going into a conversation feeling calm and confident that you know that you’ll be able to pull it off?
- Actually enjoying yourself when meeting new people?
Here’s something we discovered that most people don’t know:
When we look at socializing from this perspective, without doing weird social stunts, being good socially is actually one of the things in life we have a good shot at succeeding with. Think about it:
We have these small social interactions all the time. With people around us, at work, with the cashier at the supermarket, with the server when we order a burger.
We can use these everyday social interactions to take small steps out of our ordinary behavior. Each step is tiny, but over time, the compounding improvement is immense. I’ve seen it over and over in all the people I’ve helped.
As I’ve told you before, there are so many who believe they have something in them that’s “not enough”; that they need to be born a certain way.
But when we think rationally about it, being good socially simply comes down to doing small improvements when we’re around people.
Slowly increasing our social confidence, slowly becoming more socially skilled.
Eventually, we start enjoying being around people more, and others start enjoying our company more. Here’s where we finally have the freedom to choose the friends we want.
P.S. What’s one tiny step you can take right now? Have you made any small improvements already? I’m super excited to hear about your results in the comments!