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Get a Little Uncomfortable

I’ve been listening to business books on tape during my commute since January. It has been wonderful. I’ve listened to more business books so far this year than I had read in the previous two years combined. One of the books I’ve had the pleasure of hearing is “The Knack” by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham. I loved Burlingham’s book, “Small Giants,” so I thought I’d give this a try. “The Knack” is more Brodsky than Burlingham, I suspect, but I loved it just the same. The theme was basically Business 101 from the entrepreneur’s perspective, and the book was chock full of great bits of wisdom. There was one point, though, that really hit me. I don’t recall the exact wording, but Brodsky’s point was basically that you aren’t doing everything you should be as a leader unless you are constantly putting yourself in situations that make you a little uncomfortable. Brilliant!

At the time I was preparing for a speaking engagement which I knew was going to be our most important marketing event of the year, and which was only my second speaking gig ever. Was I a little uncomfortable? Yes, yes I was. Brodsky’s point validated my discomfort, though, and actually instantly transformed it into fuel I could burn for motivation. My discomfort became encouragement because I new I was doing the right thing. Newfangled needed me to put myself out there; I knew I had a lot to say, and I knew that the attendees would want to hear it. I was nervous, but that was a great sign, just as not being nervous would be a warning sign.

So here’s my point–and my bridge: When you put yourself in situations that you know are for the good of your firm but that maybe scare you a little bit, you are opening your mind to a massive stream of self-education.

Blair Enns, one of Newfangled’s clients, friends, and mentors (sounds dangerous!), often encourages the agencies he consults to write and speak on their area of expertise regularly. He gives many great reasons for this, but one particular point he makes is that writing about your area of expertise makes you smarter. As usual, Blair is so very right.

I started hosting monthly webinars for Newfangled back in January, and I really think I’ve learned more from hosting these webinars, on topics I already thought I knew quite well, than I have through any other source over the past year. I am amazed each month at how much I learn simply by preparing to educate a group of people about a specific topic in a formal setting. Prior to preparing for the webinar, all the thoughts are already flying around in my mind, but once I have to tell the story, my knowledge just somehow fuses together. It is my theory that the fear of not performing well in the webinar, blog post, or speaking engagement forces my brain to get it together and bring my best thoughts together and to the forefront.

So, my advice is to get positioned and then hurl yourself into a wonderfully enriching arena of professional discomfort. You’ll be glad you did.

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