By: Daniel C. Finley

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

When an advisor asks me if they are a candidate for coaching, I always find myself saying, “Never wait to succeed!” Unbeknownst to them, what they are actually telling me is that they are in a comfort zone and that they are not sure if they are ready to go beyond it.

Unfortunately, those who stay in their comfort zone rarely reach their pinnacle of success. Conversely, those who strive for excellence never settle for mediocrity, they do what others won’t.  

Remember feeling uncomfortable when trying new endeavors in pursuit of your business goals is a temporary situation. You soon realize that what may have seemed awkward initially turns into your new normal. The secret to getting to the next level is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. In order to do that you must first understand the Comfort Zone Model.

Understanding the Psychological States of the Comfort Zone Model

The Comfort Zone Model states that when people are faced with a difficult situation they will overcome and rise to the occasion by learning or growing; thus, lifting out of their comfort zone. However, I believe that many advisors are stuck in complacency unless they have a strong enough reason for change. The following are three psychological states of the Comfort Zone Model and how it may pertain to you as an advisor.

Level 1: Comfort Zone

The Comfort Zone is described as a psychological state in which things feel familiar and as a result there is a low level of anxiety, stress and feeling of being in control. Advisors tend to get to settle in their comfort zone when they have created a book of business and gross production level which is acceptable to the company they work for, themselves and in some cases their peers.

However, change is inevitable. Eventually, the market will go down, clients pass away or transfer to other advisors and in some cases the firm you work for will increase their minimum gross production standards. When any of this happens many advisors are forced out of their comfort zone. Or, they are forced out of the industry.

Level 2: Optimal Performance Zone

Although stress and anxiety can play a large part in why an advisor has to step out of their comfort zone the act of doing these new activities can also create new anxiety and stress. However, if the advisor continues focusing on learning and refining new ways of growing and maintaining their business they will soon find that they are in what is referred to as the Optimal Performance Zone- a psychological state in which the advisor is hitting peak performance.

The secret to staying in this state is to continuously want to want to work “On” your business while working “In” your business. When an advisor is focused on improving their business they learn various tools, techniques, strategies and solutions which help them work smarter. As a result, they typically start to quickly see positive results!

Level 3:  Danger Zone

As I had previously stated, some anxiety and stress can improve an advisor’s performance because it propels them towards learning and growth. However, if too much anxiety occurs it can be paralyzing. This is referred to as the Danger Zone- a psychological state where disbelief lives and all actions cease. Performance therefore declines as anxiety and stress increase.

Take for instance Gail Z., a 25 year veteran who was told at Thanksgiving that if she didn’t achieve the company’s minimum gross production number by the first of the year she would be let go. This immediately put her into the Danger Zone and the only thing that got her out of it was by having a strategic plan to follow which helped her accomplish what seemed to be an unreachable goal.

Finding Your Psychological Zone

Obviously, it is important to be aware of what psychological zone you are in at any given time. If you feel complacent and not motivated you are most likely in your comfort zone. Beware of complacency because too much of it can have an adverse effect when you are faced with a situation like Gail was.

The place you want to find yourself is in a constant state of forward movement. Being willing to be comfortable being uncomfortable is paramount and will no doubt offer you a leg up as it forces you to continually think on your feet and come up with out of the box solutions.

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