Getting out of the comfort zone
I just finished competing in the Humorous Speech contest for my Area in Toastmasters. It’s an annual event that takes place each fall.
Many people know I love speaking contests. I like the competition. I like the skill and creativity of the speakers. And, yes, I like to win when I can.
I’m a serious speaker. I compete annually in the International Speech Competition. My speeches have ranged from stories about jewel thieves to the power of belief. In my work I’ve done customer service seminars and given presentations on the value of public speaking. None of this would be considered humorous because I’m not a humorous speaker.
It’s not that I’m not funny from time to time. It’s just I have trouble being funny or humorous on purpose. I have a history of trying to be funny on purpose, but most of the time my humor fell flat. Old joke: Man goes to the doctor and says, raising his arm over his head, “Doc, it hurts when I do this.” Doctor: “Don’t do that.”
I stopped trying to be funny in speeches.
My club needed contestants for the humorous speech contest and I reluctantly agreed, thinking it would end at the club level. After all, I was under no illusions about my comedic abilities. My past had come to equal my future. An hour prior to the contest I finally came up with an idea that I thought would at least keep me from being embarrassed. To my surprise, I won and advanced to the Area.
I kept at it. I tried portions of my material out on family and people I work with and associate. I looked for new ways to look at things and different ways to say things. I tried new twists on old jokes. I recorded and listened to the speech many times to see what areas could be improved. In short, I put the same work into this that I put into my other, more serious, presentations.
I won again.
Lesson: You have to get out of your comfort zone and face new challenges to learn new things, stay sharp and grow. It really is very much like working out. When you first start lifting weights your muscles hurt. Over time, as you force yourself to work out regularly, the muscles get stronger and the weight routine becomes just that – a routine; part of your comfort zone.
Even if I don’t win the next round, I learned that I can be funny on purpose. That little discovery destroyed 5-years of wrong thinking and will make me a better and more entertaining speaker.
What are you putting off because you’re not comfortable? What kind of job have you not applied for because you don’t feel qualified? What kind of customer have you not called on? What have you not attempted?
Now imagine the difference in your life, career or business if you began “working out” on that challenge…..
Definitely, something to think about.