I was standing in front of a Starbucks at my local mall and I was scared shitless.
“A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” -Tim Ferriss
After reading the above quote in The 4-Hour Workweek, I knew I needed to make a change in my life. I had spent the majority of my life doing things that were comfortable for me. I avoided strangers like the plague, I never left my house without a good friend by my side, and I did everything in my power to avoid drawing attention to myself. By the standards of Tim Ferriss, I was failing hard...
Luckily, I had a good friend who equally as eager to make a change in his life. His name is Mike. To be honest, Mike is the one that pushed for this whole "comfort challenge" thing, so I have him to thank for what's to come.
Mike and I made it a mission to go to the mall three times each week for the sole purpose of putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations. After a few weeks of doing nothing but awkwardly walking around, we decided that today was going to be the day we finally did something uncomfortable. We made it a mission to approach five girls in a ten minute time-span and ask for their numbers.
Oh, and whoever failed to do the five approaches had to lay down in the middle of the local Starbucks and sing a song. To raise the stakes even more, before we set foot in the mall, we each handed each other $100 in cash. Whoever didn't hold his end of the bargain, lost his cash.
Standing at the food court, we set a timer of 10 minutes on our phones and headed in different directions. A few minutes went by, and I saw Mike at the other end of the mall talking to a girl. I was still too nervous to make an approach. At the six minute mark, I saw him talking to two others. I was still at zero. Shit....
Before I knew it, the timer on my phone was going off and it was time to meet Mike back at the food court to debrief. Mike came back with the news that he had approached five girls. As you probably already guessed, I didn't meet the quota. I couldn't lie to him. As hard as it was to tell the truth, I told Mike that I had fallen two short.
Fast forward fifteen minutes and I was nervously pacing back & forth in front of the Starbucks, kicking myself for not approaching two more girls. Mike was sitting at a table inside, happy as a clam, waiting for me to do what I said I would do. In just a few minutes, I had to go into the Starbucks, push aside a bunch of people, lay down, and sing a verse of a song. Nothing else mattered in my life except for the anxiety-ridden task at hand. I was literally shaking in fear, scared of the embarrassment that would soon ensue. I couldn't do it.
Pacing back and forth in front of the Starbucks, I had to make a decision. Did I want to continue living a life where I was scared of what everyone else around me thought? Or did I want to free myself from the cage that was my own my mind?
The timer on my phone went off. It was time. I took my hands out of my pockets, walked through the Starbucks door, pushed through the line of people, lay down on the ground, and sang the chorus of "Love the Way You Lie."
I was still alive. I got up, gave my laughing friend a high-five, and together, we walked out of the mall.
Surprisingly, this was the single most liberating experience of my life. I walked out of Starbucks that day, and everything in the world seemed different. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off of me; I felt so free, so unstoppable in the next few hours. I had been anxious for no reason.
Looking back, the worst possible scenario was getting kicked out of Starbucks. But not even that happened. Instead, the barista and several people around me chuckled. A few others looked at me like I was crazy, but whatever, I never saw them again. At the end of the day, I walked out of that Starbucks knowing that I had made someone else’s day more interesting. Better, I had done something that I was previously too anxious to even think of. Best of all, I got to keep my $100.
I am writing to tell you all of this because comfort challenges let me see life through a new lens. They allowed me to realize that the only person in charge of my life is me. Sure, there are laws and regulations we have to abide by. But other than that, we are solely responsible for all of our actions, feelings and predicaments. Nobody gave me permission to do what I did but me.
I heard a speech by Jim Rohn one day, and in it he said something that's never left my mind:
“They keep waiting for someone else to give them permission. That someone doesn't exist. The only person who can give you permission to take risk is you.”
I challenge you all to take a step today towards living this reality. Do something today that make you uncomfortable. Make yourself vulnerable and do something outrageous just because you can. Stop waiting for someone else to give you permission; the only person who will allow you to start doing the things you want to do is yourself.
Realize that you are responsible for the state of your life and I promise your life will begin to change. Don’t blame others or circumstances for your predicament. You are in full control.
Mike caught my lay down on camera. Here's a still shot. If you want more, email me and I'll send you the full video.