Start with self-doubt, stress, and anxiety; add a less-than-supportive spouse; toss in a few skeptical friends, family members and co-workers; stir well with a few sleepless nights driven by thought, "What's wrong with me?" And you've got a recipe for...

What? Disaster? Feel like quitting? Well, try this thought on: what you may have here is the perfect recipe for success.

What?! Yes: success. The truth is, these very obstacles may come to serve you as the life lessons that ultimately lead to your personal success. It's called, "stepping outside your comfort zone."


"We Are Now Leaving the Comfort Zone..."

Your comfort zone contains all the activities, in work and life, that you already know how to do well. It includes your identity (How do you describe yourself? Doctor, Ph.D., teacher, bus driver, CEO, father?), as well as how others have learned to define you.

An imaginary (but powerful) barrier surrounds these familiar activities and identities, a barrier far more impenetrable than any man-made material could ever be. It is composed of your fears; specifically, of the unknown. Fears you may have convinced yourself cannot be breached.

However, because you created them, you can un-create them. Whenever you venture outside your comfort zone to try something new, you make yourself vulnerable to the uncomfortable effects of fear, anxiety and self-doubt. Paradoxically, it is only by becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable that you can reach your true potential.

But doesn't success come easily to the lucky some? We've heard about the "big player" who joined our company a few months ago and is already at the top of the plan. In fact, we hope to enroll some of those folks who can make things happen fast. And if that fast-track growth isn't happening for us, there must be something wrong with us...right?

The truth is, such individuals developed those skills for success elsewhere, and came to your business with proven abilities and skills--making it look easy. In reality, success--everyone's success--is earned through personal effort, action, good mentoring, a willingness to overcome obstacles (both internal and external) and to consistently stretch outside one's comfort zone.

It is this struggle that leads to success and mastery.


The Noble Path

When you choose to become more, you step onto a path that requires a passion for personal growth. That path of growth means developing an appetite for challenges that will push you to your limits, for taking risks and meeting life head-on. That willingness to take risks for what you believe in, to risk and fail and risk again until you succeed--to me, this constitutes the highest and most noble way to live.

This process is comprised of two paradoxical aspects. The first is that of adding new skills and attributes; the second looks more like erosion: the wearing away of that which no longer works. The wearing away of your rough edges, discovering the image and form that exists within the block of marble.

If you're feeling a little on edge, that's good. Most people will not find big personal success living within their current comfort zone. Success demands that you stretch yourself beyond what is familiar and into that which is new or unknown. Moving into the unknown and its perceived risks can create a sense of anxiety and fear.

When you dare to create a compelling vision of an ideal future, full of all you can imagine and define as successful, you discover a tension that develops between where you are today and where you envision yourself going. The clearer your future goals become, the greater the tension, the more you are pulled out of your comfort zone toward that imagined future--in turn creating new opportunities for growth and understanding. Easy? No; rewarding? Yes!

It's easy to wish the process were easier; but if it were, the rewards would not be as great. Because the rewards are potentially enormous, the tests and the challenges we face may be equally great.


The Cure

Before you can have a credible claim to mastery in this or any profession, you must start out as a "rookie," which means that while you're willing to learn and to try, you are as non-accomplished as can be. Action is the only pathway out! Productive actions that keep you outside of your comfort zone will assure your success.

Act, adjust--and act again, quickly! Find a mentor who consistently gets results and learn his or her systems and strategies. Understand that for most adults, trying something new and making mistakes is very difficult, uncomfortable and unglamorous--yet it is a sure model for success.

Mastery comes from seasoned experience, which comes from stepping outside your comfort zone and learning from your mistakes as well as successes, until the successes far outnumber the mistakes. Mastery is learning to become comfortable and confident in your ability to adjust and change.

So, if you're feeling a little stressed out and filled with self-doubt and anxiety...stand up and shout: Bring it on! I have the courage to face change and create real success, now!


DAN CONLON, a former
welder for 14 years, has been a
network marketer for the past
14 years with the same company.