Choosing Your Comfort Zone

January 2009, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jim Jackson - Also by this author

Even though we always have a choice in our lives, sometimes we get stuck. We can change. We want to change. But we don’t. Often, what keeps us where we are is our own self-image, our own comfort zone. Your comfort zone keeps you safe. It keeps you at a familiar place, where you know you belong.

We all want comfort and safety, but sometimes that comfort zone can actually hold us back. If we look at our lives and make a choice to change something, it involves stepping out of our comfort zone. Changing things will take us out of that familiar place, into something new. That’s a little scary. Depending on what it is, that might be very scary.

We talk to ourselves inside our heads. We are constantly telling ourselves who we are. All day long, you coach yourself: This is what I’m like … I never do things that way … or that sounds like me. You also get constant coaching from outside influences like parents, teachers, friends, bosses and peers. And, over the years, all of this coaching – on the inside and out – builds up your self-image. This self-image is who you know yourself to be. As long as you act in a way that matches that self-image, your inner reality is in sync with your outer reality. So, you’re in your comfort zone.

However, that doesn’t mean your comfort zone is always comfortable. Maybe you have a self-image that says you can’t speak in public, so you always panic. Once, in high school, you panicked and ran off the stage when you had to give a speech. Then, as an adult, you had to make a few brief presentations and you were terrified every time. Your palms were sweating, your mouth was dry and your creativity went out the window; you couldn’t remember a thing you wanted to say. Your self-talk says you can’t do it. You’re no good at speaking in public. Maybe the other people at the presentations say the same thing, so you believe it. Now your comfort zone is about being uncomfortable. I always panic when I try to speak in public. It’s part of what you expect from yourself.

So, what happens if one day you’re feeling pretty good? You realize there’s nothing to be afraid of; you know everybody in the room. Maybe you do a few breathing exercises to stay calm. And then you get up and speak with no problem at all. In fact, you almost enjoy it! Well, somewhere in your brain, alarm bells will start going off. That’s not right! That’s not who you are! Something’s wrong here! Now you feel really uncomfortable, maybe in a different way. You just don’t “feel like yourself,” even though you’ve made a breakthrough! You can run back to your comfort zone and tell yourself it was a fluke, or you can choose to get past the discomfort and change your self-image.

The same thing happens if you do something “beneath you.” Maybe you’re always on time. People know you to be very punctual. But one day, for no real reason, you’re late for a meeting. That’s not like you; you’re out of your comfort zone. That can’t be right. So, somehow, without even realizing it, you creatively correct it. You instantly have the motivation to get back to your comfort zone to be on time.

We all have it. We all see ourselves in certain ways and do our best to maintain that self-image—for better or worse. We stay within our comfort zones in every area of our lives. If you look around a little, you’ll immediately see where the lines of that zone are drawn. Think about these questions and you’ll see what I mean:

• What types of friends are good enough for you?
• What type of house is good enough for you?
• How many units sold is good enough for you?   
• How much income is good enough for you?
• How much gross is good enough for you?

All of these things say something about your self-image, both personally and for your business. They help define your comfort zone. Your business is directly driven by your comfort zone.

So, are we locked into our present comfort zone? Absolutely not. The best way to get beyond your comfort zone is to challenge the way you think about yourself. The best way to get your sales team to a new and more successful comfort zone is to challenge their current comfort zone settings. You challenge and inspire them to go where they didn’t think they could go just by affirming that they are better then average. The best salespeople focus on being the best each and every day. The entire day is part of the sales process, not just one sale. That means the salesperson is not waiting for an up, but is being proactive in finding the deal.

Decide what you want your sales to look like for a day, a week or even for the whole year. Then, when you walk onto the floor each morning, remind yourself: I sell one car a day; I’m that good at what I do. And when you make that sale, tell yourself (and keep telling yourself): That’s like me; I’m that good at what I do. Congratulations, you’ve just changed your comfort zone!

Vol 5, Issue 11

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