An Interview With Maria Angelova
Conquer your fear. Too many people allow fear to stop them from taking that first step because they fear the outcome and what might happen to them if things don’t go the way they thought it would. If you learn to overcome the fear that exists and realize that you don’t really fail, but you learn from each experience, you’ll be better equipped to handle new challenges that come your way.
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 Jason Gelios.
Jason Gelios is a Top producing REALTOR® in Southeast Michigan, Author of the real estate book ‘Think like a REALTOR®’ and the self help book ‘Beating The Force Of Average’, the creator of The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show, and an Expert Media Contributor of expertise to various reputable media outlets across the globe.
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?
Thank you for having me! I was your typical hyperactive boy growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. I had a love for video games and reading books with a slight motivation to be the class clown. Despite getting sent to the principal’s office often, I somehow managed to spend a lot of time in the school library reading as many Hardy Boys books as I could. I always loved the power of books and how they can pull you into their story.
After graduating high school I held multiple mundane jobs, eventually leading me to step out of my own comfort zone, to pursue a career that I could be proud of. I pursued and achieved an associate’s degree in general studies at the local community college. While I think having formal education is important, I attribute the majority of my success to what I’ve learned outside of the classroom. By remaining a student and diving into whatever information I can to be a better version of myself, back then and currently, I position myself to gain the success I desire. Had I not stepped out of my comfort zone, I would not have made that positive change that was needed in my life. And who know what I would be doing, probably nothing too great!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote I read almost daily is by the late sales and life coach Zig Ziglar. He says “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
This quote sticks with me because I have learned that when you help enough other people solve their problems your life will be transformed into one you don’t mind living. This philosophy doesn’t mean you should give to get back however. It simply means you should try to be a person of value and a problem solver in whatever you do. I soon realized after coming across this quote that I was already living this way, but on a much smaller scale. In each of the mundane jobs I held, I still applied a strong work ethic and focus on what the other person needed to achieve their goals. Coming across this quote early in my sales career really emphasized the importance of putting other people’s needs first. This is especially true in the sales profession because salespeople are perceived as those only out to serve themselves. This quote serves as a reminder of what my whole career stands for and where my focus needs to be and remain.
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?
I am inspired by Christopher Gardner’s story ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’. In this story, Christopher shares the struggles he went through to pick himself up to pursue an opportunity that would benefit him and his young son. From his girlfriend, and son’s mother, walking out on them to being thrown out of his apartment leading to being homeless, Christopher somehow pulled through to keep moving forward towards a better life. While I haven’t experienced the type of hardship Christopher did, I did have to overcome certain mental obstacles to step out of my own comfort zone to pursue what I wanted out of life. Throughout my childhood I had a bad speech impediment that held me back from doing things. From not being able to have fluent conversations to having other people finish my sentences for me, it was a major obstacle I had to overcome. At this time in my life, my comfort zone consisted of not speaking out unless I felt it would be ok or not interacting in school because of having fear of being teased about how I spoke. As I grew into an adult, I still held on to some of this fear. This was especially true when I first thought of a career in sales. I had major doubts about how effective I would be in communicating with others and whether or not I would even last in that environment.
Christopher Gardner’s story and resilience serves as a reminder of how there are always obstacles in life and that it’s important to get over them to achieve what you want or get to where you want to be. Every blow he was dealt and every wall that life put in front of him didn’t stop him from moving forward. It’s an amazing story and I recommend his book and movie.
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?
The comfort zone is a familiar and safe area that many people stay in because it allows them to avoid facing any challenges or feelings of doing something uncomfortable. While it’s nice to feel safe and comfortable, nothing exciting or new ever happens in this zone. Oftentimes people complain about their job or their position in life, dreading Mondays or wishing it was Friday, yet they never actually make the move forward to improve anything. If they took that first step outside their comfort zone they would realize they are capable of so much more. What holds people back from taking that step out is the assumption they make about what might happen if they did take the leap. Various thoughts of failure and/or disappointment run through their mind, which in turn keeps them in the comfort zone. By making the decision to step out of our comfort zone, we are making a conscious choice to step forward to better ourselves, by going after what we truly want.
Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?
Recognizing that your true life exists outside of your comfort zone is the first step. People who stay in their comfort zone choose to live inside a bubble of safety and comfort without ever stepping outside of it. Multiple opportunities pass them by and they never experience growth. It’s important to know that our true life consists of positive experiences and achievements that only exist outside of our comfort zone. If we don’t experience these things, we are robbing ourselves of a fulfilling life. We should never allow ourselves to believe that all of life’s experiences are confined within the safety of our comfort zone. A whole other world exists outside of our familiar one. All it takes is that first step.
Second, we should not allow fear, assumptions, and/or self doubt hold us back from experiencing growth, regardless of what the outcome is. For example, if you’re applying for a new job and you get as far as the interview, only to find out you weren’t considered for the job, you must remind yourself to not interpret that experience as a failure, but as a learning experience. Preparing for the interview probably made you a stronger candidate or maybe built up your confidence because you were actually chosen to interview for the role. Maybe you learned something new in your preparation for the interview. This experience will have you that much more prepared for the next opportunity you come across. When you think of things this way, you will move on to the next opportunity with a growth mindset.
Third, you will be better equipped to handle any change that comes your way. Many people fear change or the unknown and therefore never try anything new or challenging. When you overcome your fear, you will expand the size of your comfort zone. You will learn ways to tackle any challenge that life throws your way. The further you step out of your comfort zone, the more you will elevate yourself to a higher level, becoming stronger along the way.
Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone? Can you explain what you mean?
I don’t believe it’s possible to grow or make any positive change in our lives without stepping outside our comfort zone. If we stay in this zone, we are choosing to stay where we’re at without any chance of gaining opportunity for growth. You will hold yourself back from facing new challenges that could propel you forward, meeting new people who could force you to level up, or any other benefit to better yourself and your situation. Some people are ok with staying in their comfort zone, which is fine. That is if you are ok with where you’re at. But if we really want to live life to the fullest, then we must step out of our comfort zone. It’s also important to remember that as our comfort zone grows wider and wider, we need to do things daily that have us stepping out of our comfort zone.
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?
I think back to when I first dove into a professional sales role. I decided on the mortgage industry and got hired at a small mortgage firm that offered very little training, and I do mean little, in an effort to get my feet wet. My first week in the business guided me to a desk, a telephone, and a phone book. The professional advice I was given was simply to dial for dollars! I had taken a seat in what appeared to be a recently unemployed employee’s office and started perusing through the phone book. My goal for the day was to contact as many people as possible for the potential of some of them would want to refinance their mortgage. As I picked up the phone and started dialing, I could feel the sweat on my face and neck. My anxiety increased tenfold making me feel more and more uncomfortable. Once someone did answer, they were met with my stammering speech and failed attempt to properly reference a prewritten sales script. That first day, and week, taught me a lot though. As I spent more time making my calls and learning more about what works and what didn’t, I began to feel more comfortable with the task. I even made a game out of it by competing with others in the office who were doing the same ‘dialing for dollars’ as I was. Our competition consisted of seeing who would have the most hang ups or the most people answer the phone. Through this experience I had learned that I was not only stepping out of my comfort zone, but I was learning new skills and gaining new opportunities. Had I not stepped outside my comfort zone, I would have never experienced this growth experience.
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”?
The first and probably most important thing to do is conquer your fear. Too many people allow fear to stop them from taking that first step because they fear the outcome and what might happen to them if things don’t go the way they thought it would. If you learn to overcome the fear that exists and realize that you don’t really fail, but you learn from each experience, you’ll be better equipped to handle new challenges that come your way.
When I made the switch from an underpaid laborer to a professional salesperson, I made the conscious choice to conquer my fear of doing something new and risky. I chose to not stay focused on everything that could go wrong but I aimed my focus towards everything that could go right. I would ask myself what is the best thing that could happen to me if I do the thing I want to do? What would I learn by doing the task I feared? By changing my thoughts and approaching new challenges and opportunities head on, I learned to develop a better mindset that keeps me moving forward.
Second, making a change in your routine is a great way to step outside your comfort zone. Part of having a regular routine is that it makes us feel safe that we are doing things right and with a plan. If we change up our daily routine we can experience new tasks and opportunities that put us in a better place. Changing our routine can also free our minds to focus less on the comfort zone and more on moving forward towards what we want.
In the beginning of my sales career I was prospecting, or hitting the pavement as it’s more commonly known, in an effort to get in front of potential clients and win new opportunities. After feeling burnt out by my daily sales tasks, I decided to mix things up and do things differently. This involved making simple changes to the times when I reached out to prospects and even when I worked with my existing clients. These simple changes gave me a much needed refresher and a new outlook towards what I was doing. It would have been so much easier to sit back in my comfort zone and not make any effort to keep moving forward. But where would that get me?
Third, make a list of things that make you feel uncomfortable. You must be as specific as possible in this area. If it’s a specific challenge such as applying for a new job, make a list of everything that makes you uncomfortable about applying for the job. Getting these things out of your head and onto paper will free your mind so that you can address each one individually.
I had learned early on from a popular sales coach that by writing down your fears onto a sheet of paper or journal, and addressing each one of them, you will relieve the anxiety of doing something new and challenging. By jotting these fears down on paper, you are freeing your mind from these random thoughts. This was a very helpful method I used to move forward and do what I needed to do.
Fourth, realize the importance of increasing your skill set. If you have a fear of doing something new, it usually means you’re not fully prepared to do the thing. Being unprepared will keep you from moving forward because you will have allowed fear to stop you in your tracks. Our brain presents fear when it feels we are facing some sort of danger-false or real. If you choose to increase your skill set to better prepare you for an opportunity, you will conquer that feeling of fear and take the leap forward. When I decided on a career in sales, I dove into as much information as possible to fully prepare myself, thus reducing my fear. This involved researching how to successfully interview with companies to advancing my sales skills. This is not to say that fear goes away permanently. However, instead of succumbing to the fear, you will make the choice to get prepared and move forward.
I can remember all the way back to my junior year in high school where I had to take a speech class one semester. This class involved learning how to make presentations about a topic we were given. The fear I had of speaking in front of the class, let alone my peers, was so bad that I had taken a zero grade for the first several presentations. This was not good! I soon realized I needed to force myself to do the presentations or risk failing the class. Since I always liked to read, I dove into some books on public speaking and practiced what I learned in front of a mirror at home. This effort allowed me to present for the first time in speech class. While I didn’t get a good grade at first, I had conquered my fear and went on to doing the rest of the presentations for the class.
Fifth, grow your confidence to where it needs to be. I’m not a believer in the fake it until you make it philosophy that exists. But I do believe that in order to step out of your comfort zone and tackle new opportunities, you must build your confidence to a level that get’s you moving. You must rid your mind of self doubt and assumptions too. Never allow any of these things to hold you back or keep you in your comfort zone. You can build confidence by looking at what you have already achieved in your recent past, focus on the things you are good at, setting some goals or even changing your vocabulary and eliminating words such as ‘should’ or ‘maybe’. Using words that evoke action to move you forward are key. You can never know what someone else is going to do, so never assume you know. Making assumptions on other things without factual information is a way for someone to stay rooted in their comfort zone. Remember, instead of asking yourself what could go wrong ask yourself what could go right!
From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?
The thought and fear of failure keeps people psychologically trapped in the comfort zone. They never learn how to conquer the fear they experience and remain stuck where they’re at. Along with fear, additional factors such as self-doubt, a lower self-esteem, and a lack of effort or laziness contribute to never making the necessary change for themselves. These are all things that I feel keep people from making a positive change that could improve their life.
In my book ‘Beating The Force Of Average’, I talk about how many people succumb to what is called the force of average, which is the equivalent of staying in their comfort zone, living a life they really don’t want to live. People don’t like change, yet they continue to dislike what they are doing day in and day out. If only they stepped out of their comfort zone, and beat the force of average, they could expand their horizons beyond what they have always known or thought possible. Imagine the new possibilities and paths created just by taking the action of stepping out of that comfort zone. It simply begins with learning how to conquer these thoughts in an effort to not remain stuck in place.
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?
I wouldn’t think that Eleanor’s quote applies to putting ourselves in harm’s way physically. Although some people might disagree with me on this one because they would say that people should be strong in every aspect of their life. To me, Eleanor’s quote means we should push ourselves to do something daily that forces us to level up in our life. There is great power in doing things that scare us so that we can learn how strong we can be. We have the power within us to do the things that move us forward towards what we want-outside of our comfort zone. We won’t find fulfillment or be able to build a rewarding life for ourselves if we remain comfortable without facing our fears. This quote speaks to me that Eleanor wants every one of us to be ok with being uncomfortable and realize it’s a part of gaining positive growth.
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?
While I don’t consider myself to be perfect, I would love to see more people put other people first-personally and professionally. Taking a moment to hold a door open for someone, checking on an elderly neighbor or helping them with a task, watching out for children, or applying the pay it forward method to someone who may need it that day, the world would be a much better place. These small gestures that show kindness towards others definitely go a long way.
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!
I would love a sit down with the man behind the well known book and movie ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ Christopher Gardner. He shares a compelling true story of how everything in his life was stacked against him as he was raising a young boy and dealing with people around him doubting his ability as a man. Somehow, Christopher still stepped out of his comfort zone to create the life of success he has at the present moment. He cut through the self-doubt and fear he experienced on multiple occasions to stay on track towards a life he visualized in his mind. His story is inspiring and encouraging to others. Christopher really had nobody but himself to get through those hard times to face each challenge he was dealt.
How can our readers follow you online?
I invite everyone to visit my website www.JasonGelios.com
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.
Jason Gelios On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and Professionally was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.