Note: This blog originally published in June 2011.
I read an incredible book a few weeks ago called My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock. The author was laid off from her job as an entertainment blogger and was in a funk about what she should do with her career. She came across this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt in a coffee shop one day: “Do one thing every day that scares you,” and decided she would follow this mantra for one year.
The book is delightful as Noelle takes you on her adventures from trapeze classes to stand up comedy, all the way to the end when she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. She’s an easy writer, very witty with incredible observations. I loved this book so much I told everyone I came across for 2 weeks to buy it. I even wrote a glowing review on Amazon. I was taking notes in my notebook about some of things that really affected me when I read the book, but most importantly, I started a list of things that I wanted to do that scared me.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
I know in my career, particularly when I started my own business, that fear held me back some times. Every time that I stepped out of my comfort zone, not only did I realize that what I thought was so awful never ever was, but more importantly I always felt a sense of accomplishment.
Last year I attended a business lunch with a Senior VP from US Bank as the speaker. It was a small group of attendees. His topic was what the results of surveys from small business owners on what they were looking for in their banking relationships. I disagreed with parts of his presentation and asked him a couple of questions about the results.
The next day I sent him an email and introduced myself and asked for a meeting. He replied back within 5 minutes and we met 2 weeks later. While I didn’t get business from him, I learned a valuable lesson about doing something that was uncomfortable for me. The hour and a half meeting was very insightful and I know that I made an impression when he told me if I ever wanted a job to call him.
I still have the email exchange. It’s a good reminder from time to time that doing things that scare you are usually what takes your business or your personal life to the next level.
Back to the book – I filled 3 pages with things that scared me. I won’t share them all with you but I’ll give you a few:
- Take a new picture for my profile on LinkedIn (I hate getting my picture taken and it shows)
- Look for opportunities to speak about my business
- Write 2 white papers for my website
As I too start to live a year of “doing one thing every day that scares you,” I encourage you to consider the same commitment and make a difference in your life.
Thanks Noelle for writing such a great book that truly inspires me, and thanks Eleanor for the wisdom!