In trading the financial markets, one of the prerequisites of success is to be able to do with consistency that which feels unnatural and uncomfortable. Since my natural tendency is towards careful planning and staying within my comfort zone, I often feel challenged.
The other night I met with a friend and I showed him my DMP. He read it carefully and said “It is well written, very clear, and inspiring. But does it help you get out of your head, out of your planning, and out of your comfort zone? Because you need to do that in order to achieve this!”
I knew that of course, but sometimes we need to be told what we know… Yes, knowledge does not apply itself.
Having defined my DMP and my goals has certainly helped a lot. Working on my habits and my thoughts have caused my confidence and my happiness to soar. But still, I kept thinking that more could be done. And my friend had a suggestion – that I go participate in an improv theater group!
If ever there was a scary thing to me, this was it! I am a Toastmaster (which was scary in the beginning), but giving speeches is something I can prepare for, something I can control. But this would be completely unplanned, completely uncontrollable, and so completely outside my comfort zone.
But I knew he was right and I told him so. I promised to go the next day and I always keep my promises so of course I went.
The group start with “warm-up” rounds, just taking turns miming an activity and a partner starts a dialogue, then it’s over. Later we did more challenging things, like picking two random places and then have to act out a story that starts in one place and ends in the other. The challenge is to constantly be aware of the other players and where they are taking it and what they are interpreting, because we are not allowed to discuss the play beforehand.
I was very scared, and I felt very uncomfortable. I noticed these feelings and I actually managed to not allow them to take on any meaning! Instead I did what I came for, I participated, even volunteered. I took a large step out of my comfort zone and I even had some good fun!
My friend is a very good observer. Afterwards he told me that I had loosened up considerably during the session. Still, he noticed that I was holding on to a “comfort zone” within the uncomfortable situation of being in the play: Instead of moving the story forward, I was clinging on to the character and the situation that had developed, I was reluctant to change, to move on, to advance the play.
Again, I knew he was right. I have taken a big step. And I always take another step. And another…