Bina Patel Of Transformational Paradigms dba Bina Consulting On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and Professionally
An Interview With Maria Angelova
Change is a Choice. When you make the decision to accept change as a norm, you will easily make choices that help you step out of your comfort zone.
It feels most comfortable to stick with what we are familiar with. But anyone who has achieved great success will tell you that true growth comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. What are some ways that influential people have pushed themselves out of their comfort zone to grow both personally and professionally? As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bina M. Patel
Bina M. Patel, PhD is the principal of Transformational Paradigms dba Bina Consulting LLC providing conflict resolution consultative services. She is an independent, neutral conflict resolution practitioner who provides an informal and confidential forum to all employees to help address workplace concerns. Dr. Patel’s experience ranges from establishing alternative dispute resolution programs in the private sector and extends to working with public agencies and non-profits as a conflict resolution expert and an ombudsman. She is an avid publisher and trainer on conflict resolution-related topics such as communication, multiculturalism, diversity, equity and inclusion, and more.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
BP: Yes, of course! I grew up in Gainesville, FL, in an extended family. This is a traditional way of living in the Hindu culture, but we rarely see it nowadays — especially outside of the Indian subcontinent. It was my grandfather’s wish that his sons and their families live together under one roof. My cousins are my siblings. Imagine having three sets of parents?! All good times.
We migrated to the United States from Kenya when I was very young. We came here for a better life and education. Education is a key component of our family, something that has shaped me today. Unlike my family members, I had to study and work a little harder on topics I was not interested in. Let’s just say, I loved literature and history! Hard work is something that comes easily to me, especially now in my career.
Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
BP: There is no day that goes by that I thank the universe for all I have. Growing up in a family, we were fortunate to have many privileges, something we did not take for granted. My parents raised me to always recognize the other person and that began by placing myself in the shoes of the other person. My family is very giving and generous. Every single person in my family gives with their heart! Anyone who knows the Patels knows that we welcome people into our family with sincerity, compassion, and love. With that, I was constantly reminded and taught by my parents to put the needs of others first and always to treat them with kindness, and sincerity! Thinking of the other person, their feelings, and emotions was always a relevant factor in my life, which spilled over into actions. We were raised to always think and act on our morals and values.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
BP: This is my favorite quote. “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” Johan Wolfgang van Goethe. I firmly believe an individual’s true character is how they treat another person without any expectations or anything in return. When I give anything (usually books), I give with my heart. I believe in always giving thoughtful gifts with meaning attached to them!
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
BP: Adventures of the Soul by James Van Praagh. If you know me, this is a book I have either referenced or given to you. It is an intriguing book about what happens once we cross over. I often wonder, when someone hurts another person, steals their money, or acts without integrity, how do they continue to get away with it? How do they get a ‘free pass’? In this book, the author reminds us that we do pay for our sins, and when we crossover, the pain we feel impacts us twofold. It’s better to ‘pay’ for your karma while you are living than when you cross over. If you treat others well in this life, you will feel the joy and happiness you brought to them. Karma goes both ways when you cross over. The book is fascinating and a reminder that we should always act on our values and morals.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s start with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What does “getting outside of your comfort zone” mean?
BP: I can share from experience why it is important to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. I was once a shy , timid person. I know it’s hard to believe… haha, but I had to put myself in situations that helped shape me to be who I am today, a social extrovert!
Self-empowerment encouraged me to put myself in positions that would force me to be more extroverted, which meant talking to people, conversing, and asking questions. In our culture, women are taught not to speak up. I remember in elementary school, I wanted to raise my hand and ask a question. I could literally feel the answer was at the tip of my tongue. But I would hesitate because I was trained not to speak up. Once I found my voice, I found my confidence; and combined with life experiences, I never looked back. One of my professors, Dr. Bahaudin Mujtaba, taught a course on culture in the MBA program. This course was designed to conduct presentations. It was his class that helped me get past the butterflies and present with confidence. I believe we had a presentation every week or so. I became comfortable presenting to my peers and with confidence. I carry these skills with me today!
Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?
BP: In order to grow your mind and self, it is important to consistently challenge yourself, which means putting yourself in situations that help you get out of the box. My personal motto, when it gets too comfortable, it’s time for a change. Challenges and valuable life lessons help to build resiliency. This is important as life is full of challenges, especially as we age! My life experiences have shaped me in many ways. My divorce helped me graduate as a woman in many ways, I became resilient and fearless to take on anything life offered. My divorce shaped me in a very good way. At this pivotal point in my life, I realized that I acted on my values and morals without fear, something I lead with today in every aspect of my life. It took me a couple of years to realize that my divorce had to happen in order for me to become strong, fearless, and resilient. Now I put myself in uncomfortable situations to continue growing, which means always challenging myself. It can be hard still, but it is part of my soul journey.
Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone? Can you explain what you mean?
BP: Yes and no. I say yes, but that comes with our outlook on life. If we see things as always coming at us, then no, you will not grow. But you if take what is happening and think about how it relates to your personal growth, then yes, it can help because you may be inclined to act. Sometimes, the universe will nudge us to get out of our comfort zone with difficult times and experiences. I say, take it as it comes and continue growing. It is important always to challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone to grow your own happiness. For example, change is something I appreciate. While I may not agree with the timing, sometimes, change from the universe will force us to seek another job or partake in another project. When you recognize your passion, self-worth, and what you can do to better yourself and others, leaving your comfort zone will come easily.
Can you share some anecdotes from your personal experience? Can you share a story about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone and how it helped you grow? How does it feel to take those first difficult steps?
BP: Leaving an amazing job for another, sometimes more amazing job or not, is something I can share in stepping out of my comfort zone. When I was younger, my curiosity often led the way. And it still does. I do it because I love challenges. I accepted a position that broadened my skills and experience in areas impacted by natural disasters. I wanted to personally experience how humans survive in dire situations. I have always wondered what goes on in someone’s mind and heart when placed in scary situations, well I have seen it. I grew up experiencing hurricanes, but nothing compared to what I have seen. Humans are not only resilient, but such situations bring out the best and worst in us. During the 2020 election, there was so much hate against people of different races and countries of origin in a state I was deployed to, it was scary, and to the point where certain groups did not want to work with minority groups. The hate, combined with such circumstances showed me that people are shaped by narratives learned from previous generations, perceptions, and beliefs learned in the home environment. I also learned that despite it all, the individuals that I worked with, despite race and country of origin were understanding and willing to help of find someone to help them. I miss this work very much, but I knew I had to leave for circumstances that were out of my control.
Here is the central question of our discussion. What are your “five ways to push past your comfort zone, to grow both personally and professionally”?
Five ways to get out of your way begins with you.
- Change is a Choice. When you make the decision to accept change as a norm, you will easily make choices that help you step out of your comfort zone.
- Let go of control. Sometimes we get in our own way, especially when we attempt to control a situation, person, or anything that cannot be controlled, and we do not see change for the better. We also don’t give others a chance or our own. How can you learn and grow with a fixed mindset?
- Reflect and Be Inspired. Think about all the instances and times you have been forced to step out of your comfort zone and it was a blessing in disguise. These are inspirational moments that force us to change no matter the situation. When you experience something that you would not have in your wildest dreams, reflect and think about how it has shaped you to be the amazing person you are today. Be inspired with yourself through reflection. Reflection helps. Make it a habit.
- Love yourself unconditionally and fearlessly. When you learn to love yourself, you will safely impose boundaries, which means cutting toxicity out of your life, including cutting people out. When people in your world do not serve you, it is better for you to walk away, and walk away without feeling guilty. It may be challenging, but when you willingly walk away, you will love yourself more than ever because you respect yourself.
- Get comfortable with yourself. When you have learned to accept change, know when to let go, self-reflect regularly, and love yourself unconditionally, you will be comfortable with yourself, which means spending time with you, yourself, and I! I love hanging out with my family and friends, and as I get older, I recognize that I truly value my ‘me’ time. When you hang out with yourself, you are “busy” doing something. Don’t ever feel that you have to explain ‘why you are busy’. Set boundaries and stick to them!
From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?
Fear and discourse. Humans are creatures and survive on habits and routines. This is something that we are wired to do. Life issues, people, and circumstances force people out of their comfort zone. And usually, it is very hard. But once you go through a challenge, or set of challenges in your life, you will become fearless to change and accept it as a norm. And this is easier said than done.
There is a well-known quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Do something that scares you every day”. What exactly does this mean to you? Is there inherent value in doing something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, even if it does not relate to personal or professional growth? For example, if one is uncomfortable about walking alone at night should they purposely push themselves to do it often for the sake of going beyond their comfort zone? Can you please explain what you mean?
BP: Walking alone at night is not safe, even if you live in a safe area. Times have changed, so you have to be rational and think with common sense. Something my mom has always taught me is that your actions have consequences on other people. Meaning if you do something like walking alone at night, think about your family that you, will be forced into a situation that has to worry about your safety constantly. And yes, sometimes you have to walk out at night for an emergency. That is understandable, but don’t do it if you don’t have to. And be aware of your surroundings. Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote probably didn’t infer putting yourself in danger. I assume it was meant to challenge yourself by learning something new or talking to people outside your comfort zone.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
BP: I would like to start a movement to provide education to children, specifically girls who are denied education merely for being born females. When I hear about girls not getting educated for a variety of reasons in this country and others, it makes me sick. Education should be a right, not a luxury or privilege. Learning to read and write is one of the most liberating feelings that can help you get through life. Why does society deny such a thing? It boils down to control and fear.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
BP: Michelle and Barack Obama. Outside of their interviews and biographies, I would like to hear about their experiences in the WH. Specifically, I want to know how they managed to work with people who did not agree with their positions simply due to their race. This is not easy, especially when serving in the most powerful role. Forgiveness can play a huge role, but such experiences leave a mental imprint that an individual will never forget.
How can our readers follow you online?
It would be wonderful to hear from our readers.
Instagram & Twitter: @binapatelphd
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at [email protected]. To schedule a free consultation, click here.
Bina Patel Of Transformational Paradigms dba Bina Consulting On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.