She was firing questions at me faster than I could process them.

I had no idea what half of them meant, but I had to keep my cool. Inside I felt like running away but instead I just smiled and kept saying: ”I’ll double check & get back to you.”

It was my first week and she was a big hitter. I’d been told to see her as soon as I could. Now I just felt like an idiot. I was completely out of my depth. A lovely but ueber confident and capable woman who took no prisoners, she was completely at ease in her power as she strode around her spacious office, shuffling papers and reading messages while firing questions at me, completely ignoring the box of doughnuts I’d brought in as a peace-offering – which everyone else was happily helping themselves to.

It was a baptism of fire. She was a seasoned pro and I was the nervous apprentice trying to sell her a product I knew little about.

We still laugh about that day. These days we’re colleagues and equals, swapping tips and stories. We now both run finance businesses in the same organisation.

Had I run away in shame that first day, put her on a pedestal and labelled her achievements as ‘unattainable’ I never would have made it. I simply saw it for what it was: She was as far more experienced in this industry than I was, but every bit as capable as I was.

Can you remember being the little fish in a big pond – that feeling of being completely out of your depth?

Most of us feel pretty uncomfortable with it and prefer to avoid those situations.

To move forward in life you simply have to be willing to be the little fish in the big pond again and accept that you will be really uncomfortable for a while.

It’s actually a very exciting time.

When you put yourself into more challenging situations, you’ll rise to the occasion and grow into it.

Growth is uncomfortable. It’s just how it is. You’re being stretched, after all.

Remember: “No Discomfort = No Growth” Beware that comfort zone!

Evolution has programmed us to play it safe. I mean: come on, the cave man who played chicken with the mammoth for thrills was unlikely to live longer than the one who snuck out to grab berries off the nearest bush at night.

But we’re not cavemen anymore (well, most of us..) and our everyday lives hold little physical danger. Our brain chemistry hasn’t changed that much though. Whether we’re out-running a prehistoric beast or putting ourselves into an emotionally challenging situation, our natural tendency is to play it safe.

Once you understand this, you can give yourself a reassuring hug before giving yourself a big fat SHOVE towards that new challenge. We do this with our children (albeit more gently) – on their first day of school, their first school camp, etc. They’re afraid of the unknown but we know they’ll be better off for the experience. So we firmly and lovingly send them on their way, comfortable in the knowledge they’re safe and this new adventure is for their own good.

Treat yourself with the same calm certainty and loving kindness. Stay rooted in the belief that stretching yourself – being the little fish in the big pond – is the way to achieving all your dreams.

Every time you jump into a bigger pond and become the little fish again, you have an opportunity for growth. Staying in the little pond will not give you that chance. You’ll just become the big fat fish, taking up all the space, swimming around with a bloated chest thinking you’re something really special. (I know people like that – do you?)

Take a leap of faith, jump into the bigger pond and feel the humility of being the small fry again, then get excited! You’ve made it to a bigger pond. Yipee! Opportunities await!

Patience and self belief will sustain you on your journey of growth.

Another thought: Once you take a leap of faith and end up in that new pond, there should be no option of going back. It’s got to be sink or swim, so to speak 🙂 Your choice of direction must be clear and unambiguous. FORWARD is the only choice. Giving yourself an option of retreat will only confuse things and undermine your self-belief.

I started my finance business on the back of six months of zero – and I mean zip, zilch, NADA – income as a commission only loan writer. I also had a reasonable mortgage to pay at the time, so life wasn’t much fun.

I decide to go for it anyway, to back myself and start my own business. It really was sink or swim. This was a gargantuan leap of faith but I didn’t hesitate long. I knew I was capable of building a successful business and generating a great income. So I put myself into the right environment and started to grow – fast!

It was a scary time. I feared having to sell the house and almost did several times. My mortgage almost doubled before I’d built a healthy business, but I survived. I didn’t sell the house and am still happily living there today.

Each morning as I wake up to enjoy my beautiful views, I feel extremely proud of myself. It’s a constant reminder of my own abilities.

Lack of self belief is the number one thing holding people back from jumping into that bigger pond. They stay in the safety of the fish bowl, comforted by their bellies brushing up against the edge as they swim around – and around – and around. They look at the fish frolicking over in the bigger pond and talk about how lucky they are, how they had all the breaks, how they went to the right school (they are fish after all, right? lol), spawned from rich parents, knew the right people – all that crap. And it is exactly that – CRAP.

The truth is those fish likely took a big jump – a leap of faith – to get there and the key thing driving them was their self belief. They committed to getting out of the comfort zone.

Many of our self beliefs are programmed from childhood and tricky to get at. Others have been handed to us by other people along the way. Most of them we’ve taken on without giving it too much thought at all.

The best way to uncover them is to pay attention to the thoughts that come up when you think of something new you’d like to do. Just notice the thoughts and objections that come up and write them down. Then you can examine them objectively.

Being aware is the first step towards making changes and getting out of the comfort zone.

So…, what’s keeping you in the fish bowl?

Hugs,

xx Miriam