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Sedric Louissaint On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and Professionally

An Interview With Maria Angelova

Fear of Failure: One of the biggest obstacles is the fear of failure. We often worry that if we try something new or challenging, we might fail. This fear can be paralyzing, preventing us from taking risks and trying new things.

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 Sedric Louissaint.

Sedric Louissaint is a seasoned cybersecurity expert, professional mixed martial artist, and serial entrepreneur, who overcame significant adversity to achieve his current success. As the first generation of his family born in America, he’s leveraged the opportunities presented to him, transforming his life through discipline, resilience, and relentless pursuit of his passions. Today, Sedric continues to inspire others with his story of transformation, while making impactful strides in cybersecurity, the world of mixed martial arts, and the entrepreneurial space.

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 this opportunity. My name is Sedric Louissaint, my roots trace back to Cuba and Haiti, from where my paternal and maternal grandmothers and father respectively immigrated. Growing up, I was acutely aware of the sacrifices my family had made to secure a better future for us in America, the so-called ‘land of opportunity’. As the first generation of my family born in America, I felt a profound responsibility to seize these opportunities.

My life took a significant turn when I was just 18. I was living at home with my mom, grandma, and sister, working as a busboy at Texas Roadhouse, when I found out that my girlfriend was pregnant. Suddenly, I was faced with the immense responsibility of starting a family of my own. To stand on my own two feet, I moved out of my parents’ house, determined not to impose the burden of my responsibility on my single mother, who had already struggled so much to raise four kids.

The initial years were tough. I quickly spiraled into depression, as the weight of my new responsibilities seemed insurmountable. Even though I got promoted to a server, I realized that my earnings were barely enough to provide the life I envisioned for my family.

Fast forward a couple of years, I found myself consumed with anger towards the world and my life situation. I felt like the world owed me something for all the trials and tribulations I had experienced. But I knew this mindset was not serving me. I realized that if I wanted to change my life, I had to change my mindset first. And so, I embarked on a journey of self-transformation, one that would lead me to become the person I am today — a cybersecurity expert, a mixed martial artist, and a serial entrepreneur.

Through all the struggles and challenges, I’ve come to understand that life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but about learning to dance in the rain. The journey has been tough, but it’s these trials that have shaped me and propelled me forward.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“No excuses, just results.” This is relevant in my life because it’s something I always told myself and how I wanted to be able to take care of my family. It helps me to be able to take accountability. It’s all about accountability.

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?

One day, while flicking through TV channels, I landed on this VICE special called “Hacker”. I thank God every day I was paying attention. The show featured a cybersecurity professional discussing his life and work — his ability to work remotely from anywhere in the world, his six-figure income, his flexible schedule, and his sheer passion for what he did. It was a revelation. I was completely hooked.

I was Intrigued by the possibilities, I started researching how to break into cybersecurity. However, I was immediately overwhelmed by the vast amount of information out there. The journey was riddled with trials and tribulations. I had to find a cybersecurity job that didn’t require a degree, which I didn’t have at the time. I was unsure about what job to pick, what to specialize in, and where to obtain these specialized skills.

Though the beginning was tough, I persisted. I bounced from one thing to another, not knowing if I was on the right path. I wasted time, money, and energy. But, with each mistake, each wrong turn, I learned something new. And, eventually, I figured it out.

Looking back, it was that VICE special that sparked the fire within me. That was the moment I knew I was going to work in cybersecurity for the rest of my life. Despite the initial discouragement and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, I managed to turn my life around, all thanks to a chance encounter with a TV show. Today, I’m proud to say that, like the person in the show, I found my passion in cybersecurity.

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?

“Getting outside of your comfort zone” refers to the act of pushing yourself to do things that are unfamiliar or challenging, rather than sticking with what is safe and comfortable. It’s about stepping into the unknown, embracing new experiences, and taking risks that could lead to growth and development.

Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?

Leaving our comfort zones can be a daunting prospect, but there are several compelling reasons to do so:

  1. Personal Growth: Stepping outside our comfort zones often involves trying new things and confronting our fears. These experiences, while challenging, can lead to significant personal growth. We learn more about ourselves, our capabilities, and our resilience.
  2. Enhanced Creativity: When we push our boundaries, we expose ourselves to new ideas, cultures, and perspectives. This exposure can significantly enhance our creativity and problem-solving skills.
  3. Increased Adaptability: The more we venture outside of our comfort zones, the better we become at dealing with change and the unknown. This adaptability can be a major asset in today’s fast-paced world.
  4. Improved Confidence: Every time we step out of our comfort zone and succeed, we prove to ourselves that we’re capable of more than we thought. This can drastically improve our self-confidence and self-esteem.
  5. Unlocking Potential: Finally, many of us have untapped potential that we’re not even aware of. By pushing our limits and challenging ourselves, we can uncover talents and strengths we didn’t know we had.

While staying in our comfort zones might be easier, it’s by stepping out of them that we truly grow and thrive.

Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone? Can you explain what you mean?

In my opinion, true growth requires pushing beyond the boundaries of our comfort zones. It’s within these unfamiliar territories that we encounter new experiences, face challenges, and learn to navigate uncharted waters. These are the moments that define us, stretch our capabilities, and ultimately lead to growth.

That’s not to say there’s no value in comfort zones. They provide a sense of security and consistency, which are crucial for our mental wellbeing. However, if we confine ourselves to these spaces, we risk stagnating. We miss out on opportunities for personal development and learning that come with taking risks and facing our fears.

Of course, everyone’s comfort zone is different, and what may seem like a minor step for one person might be a major leap for another. That’s why it’s crucial to understand your own boundaries and to push them at your own pace. Remember, growth isn’t a race; it’s a personal journey.

So, while it’s possible to experience some degree of growth within our comfort zones — by refining existing skills, for example — major leaps in personal and professional development often require us to step beyond the familiar and embrace the unknown. It’s in these moments of discomfort that we truly discover our potential and learn to soar.

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 was a single father, barely making ends meet, and struggling to provide a better life for my family. One day, I stumbled upon a VICE special called “Hacker” it’s about a cybersecurity professional, and it was like a lightning bolt hit me. It was a field that promised a good income, flexibility, and the ability to work from anywhere in the world. I was completely captivated, but there was a catch: I had no background in technology, let alone cybersecurity.

Stepping into this entirely new field was like stepping off a cliff into the unknown. It was far from my comfort zone. I was plagued with doubts and fears. Would I be able to understand the complex jargon and technical concepts? Could I catch up with others who had formal education and years of experience in the field? And most importantly, what if I failed? The stakes were high, and failure wasn’t just about me — it would impact my family too.

But I also knew that staying in my comfort zone wouldn’t get me anywhere. The desire to provide a better life for my family was stronger than any fear. So, I took the plunge. I spent countless nights studying, learning, and practicing. I won’t sugarcoat it — it was tough. There were moments of frustration, times when I felt like giving up. But every time I felt that way, I remembered why I started in the first place.

Fast forward to today, I’m working in a field I love, I’m financially secure, and I’m able to provide a good life for my family. More than that, I’ve grown in ways I could never have imagined. I’ve learned to adapt to new situations, to learn and absorb information quickly, and to persevere in the face of challenges. The journey taught me that I’m stronger and more capable than I ever thought possible.

Taking those first difficult steps out of my comfort zone felt like a leap of faith. It was scary and uncertain, but it was also exhilarating. With each step, I felt like I was claiming a piece of a future that I wanted, a future that I was creating. It was a potent mix of fear, anticipation, and excitement. And looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

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”?

  1. Set Clear, Measurable Goals: Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve can motivate you to step out of your comfort zone. When I decided to pursue a career in cybersecurity, I knew it would be a steep learning curve. So, I set specific goals for myself, like learning a new coding language or earning a cybersecurity certification. These goals kept me focused and motivated, even when things got tough.
  2. Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity: When I first started, I made mistakes. Lots of them. But instead of letting these failures discourage me, I chose to see them as opportunities to learn and improve. Every misstep brought me one step closer to my goal. It’s important to remember that failure isn’t the opposite of success; it’s part of the journey.
  3. Seek Out Challenges: Actively seek out situations that challenge you. When I felt comfortable with a particular skill, I’d push myself to learn something new. It was uncomfortable, but it forced me to grow. Remember, comfort can lead to complacency, but challenges lead to growth.
  4. Find a Mentor or Support Network: My journey into cybersecurity would have been much harder without the support of mentors and peers. They provided advice, shared their own experiences, and offered encouragement when I needed it most. Don’t hesitate to seek help or advice. We’re stronger when we lean on each other.
  5. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Care: This might seem counterintuitive, but taking care of your mental health is crucial when you’re pushing your boundaries. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and stressed, but practicing mindfulness and self-care helped me manage these feelings. Remember, stepping out of your comfort zone is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to take care of your mental health to sustain your journey.

Pushing past your comfort zone isn’t easy, but it’s often necessary for growth, both personally and professionally. Remember to take it one step at a time, celebrate your successes, and don’t be too hard on yourself when you encounter setbacks. The journey may be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?

Based on my experiences and observations, there are several common barriers that often prevent people from stepping outside of their comfort zones:

  1. Fear of Failure: One of the biggest obstacles is the fear of failure. We often worry that if we try something new or challenging, we might fail. This fear can be paralyzing, preventing us from taking risks and trying new things.
  2. Fear of the Unknown: Stepping out of our comfort zone often involves venturing into unfamiliar territory. The uncertainty associated with the unknown can be a significant deterrent.
  3. Lack of Self-Confidence: When we lack confidence in our abilities, we may hesitate to leave our comfort zones. We may doubt our capacity to handle new challenges or adapt to different situations.
  4. Comfort in Familiarity: The comfort zone is, by definition, comfortable. We know what to expect, and there’s a certain sense of security in the familiar. This comfort can make it difficult to push ourselves into new and unfamiliar situations.
  5. Perceived Lack of Skills or Knowledge: Sometimes, we may feel that we lack the necessary skills or knowledge to succeed outside our comfort zones. This perceived deficiency can act as a barrier, preventing us from taking the leap.
  6. Negative Past Experiences: Previous negative experiences can also hold us back. If we’ve tried to step out of our comfort zone before and had a negative experience, we might be hesitant to try again.

Overcoming these barriers often involves a shift in mindset: viewing failure as a learning opportunity, building self-confidence, and recognizing that stepping out of our comfort zone is a necessary part of growth. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

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?

When I reflect on this quote, I think about pushing my boundaries in a productive and positive way. Perhaps it’s trying a new technology in my work, giving a public speech, or challenging myself physically in a mixed martial arts training session. These are examples of situations that may initially cause discomfort, but they ultimately contribute to my personal and professional development.

On the other hand, doing something that makes you uncomfortable should never compromise your safety or well-being. If you’re uncomfortable walking alone at night, it’s likely because of valid concerns about personal safety. Pushing yourself to do it often for the sake of going beyond your comfort zone would not be advisable or beneficial. We need to be able to distinguish between fears that hold us back from growth and those that keep us safe.

There is inherent value in stepping outside our comfort zones when it contributes to our development or expands our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. This could mean engaging in difficult conversations, exploring new cultures or viewpoints, or trying activities that challenge us physically or mentally. These experiences, even if they don’t directly relate to our current personal or professional goals, can enhance our resilience, adaptability, and empathy — all valuable traits in any aspect of life.

So, while I fully endorse the spirit of Roosevelt’s quote as a call to embrace discomfort in the pursuit of growth, I also believe it’s crucial to ensure that the challenges we take on are aligned with our values and respect our personal safety and well-being.

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?

If I could inspire a movement, it would be the one I am currently building at Show Up Show Out Security. Our program is a global cybersecurity mentorship and training program. I firmly believe that equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills in cybersecurity can not only transform their lives but also have a ripple effect on their families and communities, effectively changing generations.

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity skills aren’t just a luxury for tech-savvy individuals or large corporations; they are a necessity for everyone. However, the world faces a massive skills gap in this field, and it is my vision to bridge this gap through a comprehensive mentorship and training program.

Imagine a world where everyone, regardless of their socio-economic background, has access to high-quality cybersecurity education. They’re not just learning to protect their digital footprints but are also gaining a skill set that’s in high demand in the job market. This movement could open up new career paths for individuals, especially those from underrepresented communities, fostering economic growth and promoting equality.

The ripple effects of this are profound. When one person gains valuable skills and secures a well-paying job, it uplifts their entire family, often breaking cycles of poverty and setting a new precedent for future generations. Furthermore, they become role models in their communities, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps and perpetuating a cycle of learning, growth, and economic upliftment.

This movement wouldn’t just be about training people; it would also be about creating a supportive network of mentors and peers. Mentorship is critical in navigating the complex landscape of cybersecurity, and a supportive network can encourage persistence in the face of challenges.

In essence, this movement would be about empowering individuals to secure their digital worlds, seize economic opportunities, and become catalysts for change in their communities. It’s about creating a world where cybersecurity is not a barrier but a bridge to a better future. And that, I believe, would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people.

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!

If I had the chance to have lunch with any person in the world, it would be Tyler Perry. The man’s life and career are the embodiment of resilience and the power of believing in oneself.

Tyler Perry is not just a successful actor, writer, and director; he’s a trailblazer who has broken barriers and created an empire in the face of adversity. His journey from poverty and hardship to becoming one of the most influential figures in Hollywood is nothing short of inspiring.

But what I admire most about Tyler Perry is his relentless spirit and unwavering belief in his vision. He was homeless and broke before he found success, but he didn’t let that stop him. He kept pushing forward, even when the odds were stacked against him. That kind of resilience, the ability to keep pushing even when things are tough, resonates deeply with me.

Furthermore, I’m inspired by his commitment to giving back to his community. He’s used his success not just to elevate his life but to make a difference in the lives of others, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This aligns strongly with my own belief in the importance of mentorship and providing opportunities for those who may not otherwise have them.

I’d love to sit down with Tyler Perry, not just to hear more about his journey, but to learn from his experiences and perspectives. I believe his insights could provide valuable lessons not just for navigating the world of business and entertainment, but for overcoming challenges and making a positive impact in the world.

How can our readers follow you online?

Absolutely! I would be delighted to connect with your readers. Readers can follow me on various social media platforms to stay updated on my latest initiatives, thoughts, and activities:

  1. Twitter: They can follow me on Twitter @Sedric____ where I share my insights on cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, MMA, and more.
  2. Facebook: My Facebook page Sedric Louissaint is another great place to connect with me. I share more in-depth posts, news, and updates about my work in the cybersecurity space and my MMA journey.
  3. Instagram: On Instagram, you can find me at @showupshowout. Here, I post behind-the-scenes glimpses into my life, work, and training, along with motivational quotes and tips.

I encourage everyone to reach out, engage, and ask questions. I’m always excited to connect with people who are curious about cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, MMA, or just looking for a bit of inspiration in their day.

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.

Sedric Louissaint 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.