We all have our ‘comfort zone’. It might be our home, street, town, city or even our nation. Perhaps it didn’t start as a comfortable place, there was a time when it was all new.
When I was younger, we moved from one side of the country to another, and I felt like an alien in a foreign country! We moved from Essex to Avon and I remember distinctly that when we arrived, the kids in Yate thought I was from Australia – that was their take on my Essex accent! I was often greeted with G’Day mate! Funnily enough, it was also the time when Neighbours was big news, with Mike, Daphne, Scott, Kylie and Max on everyone’s screens. The show helped me connect and find friends as the new “Australian” kid on the block.
I remember deciding at a young age to leave the safety of our street and start a car washing business. That meant venturing out into new areas to make money. It was scary at first, but I reasoned that I needed the cash so I would just go on and earn it.
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Fast forward a few years and I went to college in the BIG smoke (Bristol). I left the glorious concrete jungle of Yate and took on a broader perspective. Life changed.
Soon after finishing college, I planned to head off to an extra year at university but both universities told me to get a job rather than spend another year studying! They were right too! I had one interview and a job within two weeks and I never looked back.
Each time I had to make a life decision it was against the backdrop of being the most uncomfortable I had ever been up to that point. And each time I made one of these uncomfortable decisions, my world got bigger. Over time, I found myself travelling between London and Bristol and eventually, after making another uncomfortable decision, I quit and started over.
Fast forward about thirty years to now, and the journey is looking more international. I’ve been working with the Hungarian British Business Alliance and moving with their growth curve means travelling up to Scotland, with Germany and Dubai to come.
In each case, I am uncomfortable. It’s one thing to go global from your desktop but quite another to go in person. Now I’m reminded that chasing after a vision will always take you out of your comfort zone and it’s exciting.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about handling uncomfortable events and I approach them as part of the process. So, what kind of uncomfortable things are there to get used to on the entrepreneurial journey?
The people that you thought were in it for the long haul are not necessarily going to be there forever. Motives change with circumstances and everyone has their priorities. It is great that people want to join you on the entrepreneurial journey, but eventually, things change.
You’ll find fresh opportunities with people who emerge to step into the next phase of where you wish to go.
When you feel your business start to plateau it can mean that you need different people. The people who are ready to move on will know it too and recognise that their season with you has passed. A bit like in sports, when a player needs a fresh challenge or a new start, things just are difficult until they eventually decide to move and join a different team.
Adventure is different:
Each phase of the entrepreneurial journey has a different adventure and you’ll need different equipment and personnel, depending on whether your expedition takes you over the desert or the ocean. Adventure has many chapters. New characters show up, old ones disappear and new worlds are discovered as the narrative unfolds.
This year, for example, we have gone completely remote as a business and, at the same time, global opportunities are popping up.
In each new environment you learn from the last and experience is something that you value more and more as you speak to young entrepreneurs. Hindsight is a great thing but as you put yourself in more uncomfortable situations you’ll learn more to pass on to the youngsters coming through. Your wisdom and experience will give them foresight to see what you missed.
Our guests on The Purpose People Podcast often talk about how their success didn’t come through never failing but through learning from failure. Challenges will always come, but if you remain focussed on your values you’ll stay anchored.
To go higher, you need people with experience and skill in areas where you are weak. You cannot know everything and do everything. You need to get around people that have grown and scaled further than you and as your organisation grows, your people also need to up-skill.
In the last few years, life has come at us fast. Staying afloat in the midst of the challenges, we have had to dig deep. Not everyone will know or even care about the depths leaders, owners and entrepreneurs have had to go to.
I believe, however, that the resilient will see a reward and fresh things will emerge for them. Circumstances change, people change, clients change, environments change, as do economies and ideas.
Today, we are headed to Scotland to be part of HASBA launch (part of HBBA). I have to admit that I have become so comfortable travelling between Wales and England that I never considered venturing northwards.
My diary is changing and today I have been in calls since 7.00am, to Dubai, Lebanon, Scotland, Leeds, Bath, London, Cardiff, Romania, Bristol and the USA!
Global growth is going to bring its own season, like the ones before, with its own challenges and moments of being uncomfortable. However, if we want to make an impact we need to be motivated by faith rather than fear. They do say that fortune follows the brave…
In this season I am as uncomfortable as ever. I’m not about proving anyone wrong but I am interested in doing what we set out to do, and turn the media on its head. I want to use it to do good, make a positive impact and inspire influence.
That is my global mission.