Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Once upon a time, a king was given two baby eagles as a gift, and he assigned a caretaker to raise and train the magnificent birds. One day the king asked to see the birds fly. Both birds took off, one soaring in the sky, while the other only flew for a few minutes before returning to its special tree.

The king asked the caretaker what the matter was, and the caretaker responded he didn’t know.

The king offered a reward to anyone who could teach the second eagle to fly. Many people tried by offering treats, along with kind and threatening words. Nothing worked until one day the king noticed both eagles soaring in the sky together. Excited, he sought out the caretaker to ask what happened.

“A farmer came by yesterday,” the caretaker explained. “When I told him about the situation and reward, he went home and returned with a saw and ladder. He climbed up to the eagle’s branch and sawed it off. The eagle had no choice but to fly.”

This story from “Bits & Pieces” demonstrates that sometimes we get too comfortable in our surroundings and don’t strive to do more until we get a little nudge. Sticking with what is comfortable can be a deadly habit.

“Your comfort zone is your danger zone,” said Greg Plitt, fitness model and actor.

For some reason, the goal for many people is to get to that comfort level in our everyday lives. And that is fine for many. But playing it safe is not how to get ahead. Comfort zones need to be exploited. Put pressure on yourself. We should not seek comfort, but rather success. And success is not always comfortable.

Life is full of opportunities to get outside your comfort zone, but grabbing hold of them can be difficult. Examine your own life and see what is holding you back so you can start to soar like those eagles.

My good friend Brian Tracy advises: “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

If something doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. Try something new. Otherwise, you will never know. Be open-minded and flexible. Expose yourself to new experiences. Adopt a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.

Appropriately, the U.S. Navy Seals are known for the saying, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Being uncomfortable and scared are two different things. Being uncomfortable means you are feeling awkward or uneasy about being in an unfamiliar situation. Being scared entails anxiety, danger or fear. You can be uncomfortable without being scared.

My advice is to challenge yourself and do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, like a new activity or a new food. Maybe it’s going out and networking in a social setting. Challenge yourself. Go slowly and try one new thing a day. The more times you put yourself in uncomfortable situations, the more comfortable and confident you will become. Nothing ventured; nothing gained.

Motivational author and speaker Dale Carnegie said, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Surround yourself with people who will support you. Know that failure is part of the journey. Pick yourself up and tell yourself that you will be ok. I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy; I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.

By leaving your comfort zone behind and taking a leap of faith into something new, you find out who you are truly capable of becoming.

In the bullfighting arena, expert matadors have long gained an edge by pinpointing a bull’s comfort zone. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina studied this phenomenon and explained: “In bullfighting there is a term called querencia. The querencia is the spot in the ring to which the bull returns. Each bull has a different querencia, but as the bullfight continues, and the animal becomes more threatened, it returns more and more often to his spot. As he returns to his querencia, he becomes more predictable.”

What are the consequences of predictability? “In the end,” Fiorina says, “the matador is able to kill the bull because instead of trying something new, the bull returns to what is familiar. His comfort zone.”

Mackay’s Moral: There is no comfort in the learning zone, and there is no learning in the comfort zone.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.