Personal Growth Is Hard: 5 Lessons from Having to Do Something outside of My Comfort Zone

There’s a corporate poem at Benefits by Design that we abide by. It’s written by Christopher Logue and it goes a little something like this:

Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
And they came
And he pushed
And they flew.
Myself at the Victoria Partner Forum.

The message: no task, no project, no request is outside of our limits.

I was recently asked to put together an hour presentation to give to Advisors — people who actually do business with us. This was my “come to the edge” moment, and let it be known, I’m not the most graceful of people to begin with. While I like to think that in moments like this I transcend and turn into a soaring hawk or a graceful swan — in reality, my personal growth experience is probably more along the lines of a baby bird plummeting towards the ground who only realizes that she has wings in the nick of time.

This was a scary experience for me — this was a request that put me way outside of my comfort zone. Not because I fear public speaking, but because I fear the unknown and I definitely was not sure what I was getting into. Here are 5 things I learned throughout this experience:

Lesson #1: The best preparation is preparation.

Redundant I know, but being prepared will save you a lot of anxiety. Spend a lot of time working on the content of your presentation. Do your research, have your facts (and their sources) ready, test the technology beforehand and anticipate questions that you may be asked. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Lesson #2: Practice, practice, practice.

Second to being prepared is practicing your presentation. Practice your presentation alone (make sure to let your colleagues know in advance so they don’t think that you talking to yourself is a sign that you’ve snapped), practice your presentation in front of your dog/cat (they’re not the more receptive audience but at least they’ll be attentive — especially if you are holding treats), and practice your presentation in front of your colleagues/family/friends. This will get you comfortable speaking to any audience in any situation.

Lesson #3: Things do go wrong (and sometimes, they are outside of your control).

From wonky room temperatures, to wardrobe malfunctions — things go wrong. Acknowledge it, accept it and move on. If you are prepared and practiced when things go wrong, you’ll be ready and then it’s just a matter of not letting these things get to you and distract you from finishing.

Lesson #4: Laugh at yourself.

If you are like me, you don’t take yourself too seriously. It makes it easy then to laugh at yourself when you forget a part of your presentation, or accidentally spill some of your water on yourself or start sweating profusely because the room temperature has heated up a good five degrees.

Lesson #5: Use lessons learned for next time.

Here’s the thing about forays with personal growth — there is always a next time. You become better, more practiced and capable of doing more and it shows. Rather than avoid the challenge the next time, you’ll be better prepared to embrace it.

Benefits by Design invests in the development and growth of Advisors through events. Our BBD Regional Directors work hard to put together an event with content that is relevant to opportunities they see happening in their individual territories. These events are hosted once a year in multiple cities across Canada.

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