Robert Pardi Of ‘Possibility in Action’ On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and Professionally
An Interview With Maria Angelova
Practice self-care: Stepping out of your comfort zone can be physically and emotionally taxing, so it’s important to practice self-care to maintain your well-being. This could include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
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 Robert Pardi, Founder of Possibility in Action™
Robert Pardi is not your typical coach — he’s one of those rare individuals who embraces change and lives by a philosophy he calls Possibility in Action™. He does not focus on the “woe is me”, but rather on getting his clients to “wow is me”. After experiencing the devastating loss of his young wife to metastatic breast cancer, Robert reimagined his life and left the world of finance to share the many lessons he learned throughout his life’s journey. He is now a three-time author, well-known international keynote speaker, transformational life coach, retreat leader, and adjunct professor.
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?
First, let me say thanks again for the opportunity to participate in another interview.
Hmm, my childhood backstory. To put it simply, my upbringing was far from ideal. I had a very dysfunctional relationship with my abusive alcoholic father, and my childhood was marked by uncertainty and adversity.
Nonetheless, my turbulent upbringing equipped me with invaluable life skills that have enabled me to repeatedly step beyond of my comfort zone. abilities like resilience and intentional action. I learned how to confront uncertainty, adversity, and difficulty head-on, while leveraging those experiences for growth. In fact, those experiences were actually an invaluable boot camp on not just confronting difficulties, but also forged the critical tools needed to support my amazing wife during her eleven-year journey with metastatic breast cancer. Her passing was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to face, but it also opened up new possibilities for growth and transformation.
It was that experience that ultimately led me to leave my successful career in investment banking to become a life coach and further expand my comfort zone by moving to Italy. When I landed in Rome, I didn’t know anyone, didn’t speak the language, didn’t have a job, nor a home. But once again, the skills I learned as a child helped me navigate that uncertainty and embrace the possibilities that come with change.
This all allowed me to live a life of purpose and meaning, and to help others do the same. I hope that by sharing my story, I can inspire others to embrace their own challenges and discover the transformative potential of growth from negative life shifts by intentionally expanding their comfort zone.
I believe that personal growth is a lifelong journey, and that we all have the potential to create the life we truly want. Through my coaching, workshops, and retreats, I help my clients embrace the power of possibility and live life to the fullest. I’m excited to share with you what I have learned so far about growing life beyond one’s comfort zone.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This is such a great question. Warning to your readers, I’m a bit verbose.
That being said, I have a personal quote I not only repeat to myself every morning but are also some of the first words out of my mouth when I talk to clients, that is, “possibilities exist all around us, but without action they remain in the land of wishing”.
This is a pillar to not only my personal philosophy of Possibility in Action™ but directs attention to two things. First, we are all aware of possibilities but many times we talk ourselves out of “trying” because of one of many fears. You know what happens with a possibility recognized but ignored? It becomes a regret. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Second, is the need for action. Nothing can ever happen without intentional massive action. That differs from passive action. For example, worrying about something is passive. One feels they are doing something, but there is nothing constructive from worry. Stepping past that, which means stepping past habitual thinking, a.k.a. “your comfort zone” becomes a source of personal power.
This mindset allowed me to acknowledge and look past obstacles to see possibilities and what was under my control. It’s not about having money or waiting for the right time. It’s about taking control of your life and creating your own destiny. This quote empowers me to remember to get out of my head and start planning. Life will sometimes throw you rubble. Yet inside that rubble is the possibility of a new beautiful mosaic.
So, here are some thoughts on how this applies to personal growth and getting out of your comfort zone:
- Possibilities for personal growth are all around us.
There are always opportunities to learn and grow as a person, but we may not always recognize them as such. Sometimes growth opportunities come in the form of challenges or obstacles that we must overcome. Other times, they may present themselves as new experiences, relationships, or ideas that stretch our thinking and push us outside our comfort zone. The key is to be open and receptive to these possibilities, and to approach them with a growth mindset.
2. Action is required to turn potential into reality.
Recognizing the possibilities for growth is one thing, but taking action to pursue them is another. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of wishing and dreaming about what we want to achieve, but without taking concrete steps towards our goals, we’re unlikely to make much progress. This is where stepping outside our comfort zone comes into play — growth often requires us to take risks and try new things, even if we’re not sure we’ll succeed.
3. Getting out of your comfort zone is essential for personal growth.
Our comfort zones are the familiar, safe spaces we retreat to when we’re feeling anxious or uncertain. While it’s important to have a sense of stability and security, staying within our comfort zones for too long can actually hold us back from reaching our full potential.
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?
For sure! There are two books that I reread every year which were instrumental to how I approach life today.
As I already mentioned, as a child, I found myself trapped in a dysfunctional relationship with my alcoholic father. The constant fighting, yelling, and chaos had become the norm, and I felt powerless to escape. However, it was around this time that I threw myself into reading and journaling. One book that was instrumental in changing my perspective was and is, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss.
While it may seem like a whimsical and lighthearted children’s book, if you reread it, you will realize the deeper powerful message it holds. The book is a celebration of life’s journey, with all of its ups and downs, twists and turns. It encourages readers to embrace adventure, overcome obstacles, and persist through difficult times.
As I read the book, I found myself visualizing a different kind of journey — one that would take me away from my dysfunctional home and into a world full of possibility and opportunity. The book’s message of hope and optimism was a powerful antidote to the negativity and despair that I felt on a daily basis. I began to see that there was a way out — a way to escape the cycle of dysfunction and to create a better life for myself. The book gave me the courage to believe that I could create the life that I wanted, despite the obstacles that stood in my way.
The second is Touching the Void by Joe Simpson which is a gripping and intense account of Simpson’s harrowing experience while climbing in the Peruvian Andes. The book is a testament to the human spirit and the power of perseverance. It shows us that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, we have the strength and resilience to keep going.
For me, Touching the Void is a powerful reminder of the importance of grit and determination. The book tells the story of Simpson’s near-fatal climbing accident, where he falls into a crevasse and is left for dead by his climbing partner. Despite his injuries, Simpson refused to give up. He crawls for days across the harsh terrain, driven by the sheer force of his will to survive.
Reading Joe’s story, I was, and am with every reread, struck by the incredible power of the human spirit. Even in the most desperate of situations, Simpson never gave up hope. He refused to succumb to the negative voices in his head that told him he couldn’t make it. Instead, he listened to the positive voice in his mind — the one that told him to keep going, no matter what. This idea of listening to the positive voice in our minds is a powerful one. Today, whenever I’m faced with a challenge or obstacle, I think back to Touching the Void. I remind myself to listen to that positive voice in my mind. And it gives me the strength to keep going, no matter what.
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?
I’ve already alluded to some of this but let me go deeper here.
Getting outside of your comfort zone means doing something that you’re not used to doing or that makes you feel uncomfortable. It might be anything, such as giving a speech in front of a sizable audience, taking up a brand-new activity, or even visiting a foreign country, like Italy, hint-hint. It all comes down to challenging yourself to grow and learn new things by pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.
To drive this point home as it is near and dear to my heart, I want readers to realize getting out of your comfort zone is incredibly important for personal growth and development. It inevitably leads to new experiences and possibilities that you may not have otherwise encountered. Additionally, it can help to challenge limiting beliefs and self-imposed limitations, allowing for greater self-discovery and self-awareness. Ultimately, getting out of your comfort zone is a key ingredient in leading a full and meaningful life.
Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?
- Growth and learning: As I just mentioned, when we stay in our comfort zone, we limit our potential for growth and learning. By stepping outside of our comfort zone, we expose ourselves to new experiences, challenges, and opportunities that can help us develop new skills and perspectives.
- Overcoming fear and building resilience: When we push ourselves out of our comfort zone, we confront our fears and learn how to overcome them. This helps us build resilience and self-confidence which makes it easier for us to face challenges in the future. Remember, resilience is not about bouncing back — it is about bouncing beyond!
- Increased creativity and innovation: When we step outside of our comfort zone, we are forced to think differently and come up with new solutions to problems. This can lead to increased creativity and innovation, which can be valuable in both personal and professional contexts. I think this quote by Einstein hits home here: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
- Enhanced decision-making skills: When we step outside of our comfort zone, we are forced to make decisions in unfamiliar and uncertain situations. This can help us develop better decision-making skills, as we learn to weigh the risks and rewards of different options and make choices based on our values and goals.
- Increased adaptability and flexibility: When we step outside of our comfort zone, we learn how to adapt to new situations and become more flexible in our thinking and behavior. This can help us navigate change and uncertainty more effectively, both in our personal and professional lives.
I would like to highlight something here because my growth was amplified by having had to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I want to share that while grief is a difficult and painful experience, it can also force us out of our comfort zone and encourage us to grow and learn in ways we may not have considered before. By embracing the challenges and opportunities that come with grief, we can find new strength and resilience, and learn how to navigate life’s ups and downs with greater grace and wisdom.
Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone? Can you explain what you mean?
While it’s possible to make progress without leaving your comfort zone, I do not believe sustained, impactful growth can occur inside one’s comfort zone.
The reason for this is that growth comes from challenging ourselves and pushing beyond our current limits. If we stay within our comfort zone, we are limiting ourselves to what we already know and what we’re already capable of, which can lead to stagnation and complacency.
See, I believe there is a difference between simply learning something and truly understanding it. It’s only through pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones that we gain experiential knowledge and a deeper understanding of the world around us. When we step beyond the borders of what we know and are comfortable with, we open ourselves up to new perspectives and experiences that challenge our assumptions and expand our understanding. This type of growth is essential for personal development and can only be achieved through stepping outside of our comfort zones.
This can be uncomfortable and even scary at times, but it’s through these experiences that we evolve. In my opinion, evolution is true growth.
Of course, it’s important to acknowledge that everyone’s comfort zone is different, and what may be challenging for one person may be comfortable for another. However, the principle remains the same: to grow, we need to stretch ourselves beyond our current capabilities and embrace the discomfort that comes with that.
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?
How much time to we have? As I look back over my life, I have noticed one constant — I am uncomfortable in a comfort zone. Almost every part of my life has required me to look past the imaginary border we all believe exists. Examples that immediately come to mind are:
- Getting married at a young age despite the poor example set by my parents’ marriage. This required me to step into the unknown of what a loving relationship was. I was twenty-three, my wife was twenty-one. She planned to pursue an MD/PhD and I planned to go to Columbia for my MBA. Neither of us knew how we could make it happen but by stepping past the example of my parents, I had a template of what not to do. This allowed my wife Desiree and I to take big risks. Taking this step was exactly the same feeling I had the first time I went skydiving. I had to have faith. What was amazing is that it was the attempt to possibly have her love which overcame the fear of it not working out. There is the key — to move beyond your comfort zone, the desire for what is beyond the fictitious border has to be greater than the fear of taking the leap.
- Taking a job in the United Arab Emirates when I was thirty-one was another major leap of faith. It required me to navigate a new culture, language, and work environment. But by embracing this opportunity and immersing myself in the experience, I not only gained valuable professional skills but also broadened my perspective and grew my ability to adapt.
- Caring for my wife as she approached the end of her life with metastatic breast cancer was the most difficult and emotionally challenging experience of my life. But by stepping up and being there for her, I not only provided her with comfort and support but also was forced to open every channel to my own strength and resilience in the face of adversity. Through this experience, I learned valuable lessons about compassion, self-care, and the power of love and connection to overcome even the most difficult challenges. Trust me, those will carry you far from your comfort zone with purpose.
- Rebuilding my life in Italy after Des passed was another leap of faith. Are you noticing a pattern — “leap of faith”. The more we step out of our comfort zone and define success as taking the leap, we build self-trust. It is self-trust that propels you forward. Moving to Italy required trusting myself to create a new life from scratch. It fueled the questions; “What’s next?”, “What if I succeed?” and moved me away from “What if I fail?”.
Each of these experiences required me to face fear, uncertainty, and doubts. I had to push past my own self-imposed limitations to achieve my goals. Taking those first difficult steps can be a mix of emotions — fear, excitement, uncertainty, and hope — but ultimately, the decision, every single time, to step out of my comfort zone and take a risk amplified my feeling of self-worth, pride, gratitude, and my belief in my ability to succeed.
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”?
I could list a ton of ways, but I would say that the below are fundamental concepts to taking the first step:
- Embrace discomfort: Recognize that discomfort is a natural part of growth and learning. Instead of avoiding difficult or challenging situations, embrace them and use them as opportunities to learn, grow, and develop new skills and abilities.
- Learn from failure: Failure is an inevitable part of life, but it can also be a powerful teacher. Instead of letting failure hold you back, use it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, course-correct, and try again. Rather than fearing failure, embrace it as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you fail, reflect on what you could have done differently and use that knowledge to improve in the future.
- Seek support: Stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary, but you don’t have to do it alone. Seek support from friends, family, or a mentor who can provide guidance, encouragement, and perspective. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek out the support of others. Opening yourself up to vulnerability and reaching out to others is an incredible example of strength.
- Practice self-care: Stepping out of your comfort zone can be physically and emotionally taxing, so it’s important to practice self-care to maintain your well-being. This could include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
- Start small: Identify areas where you feel complacent or stuck and take calculated risks to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Then set small, achievable goals that push you slightly out of your comfort zone. This could be something as simple as striking up a conversation with a stranger or trying a new activity. As you build confidence, you can gradually take on bigger challenges.
By following the above strategies, you can push past your comfort zone, overcome fears and doubts, and unlock new levels of personal and professional growth and fulfillment. One thing I would like to highlight, which I think is the greatest liberator to living life is to recognize we all have a “terminal” disease. This train ride of life has one final terminal. This begs the question, do you want to remain confined to your comfort zone or do you want to live unbound, untethered and as Possibility in Action™? Remember, everything new exists outside of our comfort zones, so don’t be afraid to take that first step and embrace the unknown.
From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?
- Fear of failure: Many people fear that if they step out of their comfort zone, they will fail and be embarrassed or judged by others. But what is failure? Is failure watching life go by or is it in the attempt of reaching for something new. I’d say the ultimate failure was to have sat on the sidelines. We focus so much of our time and energy on defining the end goal as failure. I’d say that it is the journey which is where the success is, especially given you have no idea when your train will come to the final stop.
- Lack of confidence: Some individuals may not feel confident in their abilities to step out of their comfort zone, which can hold them back from taking risks. Here is the kicker, you can’t study confidence. The only way to develop confidence is to do something, fall, get back up and do it again. We gained confidence in riding our bicycles, our jobs, driving, etc. from doing. You want more confidence — you need to do the action enough of times to become confident.
- Self-doubt: Negative self-talk and self-doubt can also keep someone from stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something new. Remember Joe Simpson!
- Lack of motivation: Sometimes people may lack the motivation to step out of their comfort zone, as they may not see the immediate benefits or rewards. Want more motivation? Remember time is ticking and inaction is a choice. Define the value of what you see outside the border of your comfort zone and remember when the desire is greater than your fear, motivation will present itself. Our most valuable, non-renewable resource is time. You can waste time, or you can spend it to live the story you want, but you will never get it back.
- Perfectionism: Those who strive for perfection may be hesitant to step out of their comfort zone, as they fear not being able to do something perfectly or meet their high standards. Someone who is a perfectionist often has an all-or-nothing mindset. This mindset can make it difficult for them to take risks or try new things. In this way, perfectionism can keep someone in their comfort zone by creating a narrow set of activities or experiences that they feel safe and successful in. Perfectionism is really one of those “passive actions” I spoke about earlier. It is an excuse. Nothing can be perfect. Successful people act with eighty percent of the information needed because they have developed the trust that they can figure the rest out. This could be asking for help or pivoting along the way.
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 love Eleanor. She was an icon. I love so many of her quotes. To me, this quote means that it’s important to challenge yourself regularly and to not be afraid to take risks or try new things. There is certainly inherent value in doing things that push you out of your comfort zone because it leads to increased self-confidence and cultivates a growth mindset.
However, it’s important to distinguish between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in ways that are healthy and productive versus doing so in ways that are unnecessary or potentially harmful. Stepping out of our comfort zone is always based on risk-reward. Using your example, if someone is uncomfortable walking alone at night due to safety concerns, it may not be wise to purposely push themselves to do so. In these cases, it’s important to prioritize personal safety over pushing beyond one’s comfort zone. Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance between pushing yourself to grow and being mindful of your well-being.
I believe that doing something that scares you every day can be a powerful way to expand your comfort zone and ultimately lead to personal growth. The key here is to define “scary”. We equate scariness many times to harm. To me, doing something “scary” means looking at something that produces a feeling of resistance which is stopping my personal growth or building the life I want. Going back to your example — walking down a dark dangerous street is not in alignment with my life goal.
Hence, the risk-reward is not in favor of going down the dark street. I believe this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt a call to action to embrace new experiences and take risks, even when it may be uncomfortable or challenging, which would lead to an enhanced lived experience. For example, maybe someone has a fear of water and desires to go scuba diving. They should not jump into the water but slowly get comfortable by approaching the shoreline first. Small steps as we mentioned early.
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?
There is something I have desired to see take hold for a long time which fits perfectly within our conversation. It would be that parents read personal growth books with their children in the evenings instead of sitting in front of the television or their smartphones.
I believe this is such an important exercise because change is happening, not only at a faster pace than ever, but in much more dramatic ways. Discussing, debating, and examining different personal growth ideas and concepts has many benefits. These are skills we usually are never taught, but we pick up along the way. Imagine if they were intentionally crafted earlier in life? Envision what it would be like if this was a standard part of a family’s evening. In my opinion, it would build curiosity and personal power.
It is the main reason I wrote my second book called A Pimby Tale which is a book about life lessons written in the voice of an eight-year-old meant to be shared between adults and children. The book emphasizes the importance of play and reconnecting with our inner child to live a fulfilling life. By reading and discussing personal growth books with their children, parents can help instill important values such as curiosity, wonder, creativity, and optimism.
Furthermore, reading personal growth books can be a way for families to bond and connect on a deeper level. It can also provide an opportunity for parents to model positive behaviors and encourage their children to strive for personal growth and transformation.
Set aside just 30-minutes every evening and read only a few pages out loud with your children. After a brief discussion, come up with one journaling question that each participant (parents included) needs to reflect upon. The next evening start with what each family member journaled about before reading a few more pages. I believe this can have numerous benefits for both the child and the parents such as:
- Promotes lifelong learning: Reading personal growth books with children can foster a love for learning and encourage a growth mindset. Children can learn to embrace challenges and see them as opportunities for growth and development.
- Builds stronger parent-child relationships: Engaging in shared activities, such as reading and discussing personal growth books, can strengthen the bond between parent and child. It can also provide a safe space for children to ask questions, share their thoughts and feelings, and receive guidance from their parent.
- Develops important life skills: Personal growth books often cover topics such as resilience, empathy, goal-setting, and problem-solving. By discussing these concepts with their children, parents can help them develop important life skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
- Encourages critical thinking: Personal growth books often present ideas and perspectives that may challenge a reader’s beliefs or assumptions. Discussing these ideas with children can encourage critical thinking skills and help them develop their own perspectives and opinions.
- Fosters a positive mindset: Personal growth books often focus on positive thinking, gratitude, and mindfulness. Reading and discussing these topics with children can help them develop a positive mindset and cultivate a sense of gratitude for the things they have in life.
Overall, reading personal growth books with children can have a profound impact on their personal and emotional development, as well as strengthen the bond between parent and child. It can also help foster a culture of lifelong learning and personal growth within families and society as a whole.
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 am drawn to inspirational people. My desire to look for admirable people as role models in my life comes from the fact that my father was the anti-role model. He was what I did not want to be. So, I sought out people, not for comparison, but whose character traits I wanted to aspire to. One person I would truly appreciate meeting is Kyle Maynard.
For those that do not know his story, Kyle is an astonishing human being who has achieved many incredible feats despite facing immense physical challenges. He was born with a condition called congenital amputation, which caused him to be born without arms and legs. Despite this, he never let his disability define him, and instead, he embraced his challenges, and worked intentionally and diligently to achieve remarkable success. Just one of those accomplishments was to be the first quadruple amputee to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetics Meeting him in person and hearing his story firsthand would be an unparalleled honor for me.
How can our readers follow you online?
The best place for someone to learn more about me and how to grow your life forward with Possibility in Action™ is on my website www.robertpardi.com. My three books are all on Amazon and as for social media, I am most active on LinkedIn: robert-pardi, but I can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank you for asking me to participate on a topic near and dear to my heart. I really enjoyed our interview.
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.
Robert Pardi Of ‘Possibility in Action’ On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.