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Practice what you Preach

It was January of 2015. At the time I was working for a rapidly growing E-commerce company that specializes in retailing products via Fulfillment by Amazon. I was responsible for managing, and more importantly, leading a group of about 40+ individuals on a daily basis, while focusing on process improvement for our operation.

That day I was conducting the years first quarterly meeting for my department. I prepared for this presentation as if I was the President of the United States giving the State of the Union. My goals were simple. 1-Ensure my team had a clear understanding of how we performed in 2014 and how our department was directly responsible for the company’s successes, and it’s shortcomings. 2-Ensure my team understood what improvements needed to be made in order to help the company achieve its 2015 goals. 3-Ensure that each individual on my team understood, and began adopting, the mindset necessary to take things to the next level. Be it their career with this company, their personal lives and relationships, and/or any other endeavor they ever decided to pursue in the future. Number 3 was the most critical part of my presentation. Elevate a man’s mindset, narrow his focus, and their value grows exponentially.

So how did I do this? Well, I can’t just give up all my secrets in one post! That wouldn’t be any fun. Quite frankly, the secrets to success aren’t really much of a “secret” anyway, but I’ll touch on the one concept that I really wanted to drive home with my team that day.

In order to grow/develop/progress, whether it be in your career or just as a human being in general, you HAVE to remove yourself from your comfort zone. My team had become complacent. They resisted change. They even resisted additional training and tasks that could have ultimately led to increased responsibility. This is a mindset that many of us have. Not because we don’t want the better things in life, but because we are COMFORTABLE and we know that those better things require WORK. They require change. It all circles back to adopting a mindset where you understand and embrace the fact that discomfort often leads to some of the most amazing things in life.

Let me give you an example. In college I had to give MANY presentations on my way to earning my degree in Business Management. I HATED PRESENTATIONS. I would hope and pray that somehow, someway mine would get pushed back, cancelled, SOMETHING! You guessed it.. It never worked. Each time I would just try my best to not look like a complete fool and get through it as fast as I could. I was so focused on getting through each presentation that I never took any time to figure out what I needed to do to improve my skills so that I wouldn’t feel AS nervous the following presentation. This is something we all do. We are so focused on “getting through the day” or “is it Friday yet?” that we completely ignore the steps we could be taking to increase our value, and simultaneously, our happiness.

As my mindset began to shift, I started to embrace the challenge of presenting and speaking to groups of people. I realized that my temporary discomfort in those moments would decrease with each presentation I gave. My sharpened skills, paired with my growing confidence, led to that presentation for my department in early 2015. A presentation that had the owner of the company saying I could legitimately have a career in motivational speaking if I wanted to. While that’s not quite the route I’m traveling, I still find it important to share these valuable lessons with you in hopes that it will help you as well.

I recorded my speech that day and played it back for myself over and over, trying to learn from what worked and what didn’t. While my message about breaking out of your comfort zone resonated with my team, something about my presentation left a sour taste in my mouth. I just kept replaying it over and over, until finally, it hit. Sure, my job was challenging, but it wasn’t what I was passionate about. I was taking the easy way out by putting my true passion on the back burner while I worked the job that “paid the bills.” I was comfortable and feared taking the risk of pursuing my passion full time. I WAS DOING EXACTLY WHAT I TOLD MY TEAM NOT TO DO.

Shortly thereafter, in April of 2015, I left my job and began chasing my dream. As I write this, I’m currently on a plane 35,000 feet above civilization en route to Florida to board the Freedom of the Seas-Royal Caribbean cruise line for four weeks as their celebrity DJ. While I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity, I’m filled with mixed emotions. Leaving my family, my friends, my home and my routine for four weeks isn’t exactly easy to do. But then I think back to that presentation. I think back to the hours upon hours upon hours of hard work on my craft. And I remember that greatness is only achieved when one forces themselves out of their comfort zone.

Time to practice what I preach.