Thinking back through life experiences we believe that young men today are unable to distinguish the difference between the two. The major difference is that an expansion of your comfort zone entails zero risk. Unlike buying a pink sheet stock, or getting into a bar brawl, when you step out of your comfort zone there is absolutely nothing to be lost. Seeing that our culture discourages talking to strangers and encourages following the textbook men in particular suffer from extreme social anxiety issues by the time they graduate from college. With that said here is a blueprint of extreme baby steps to take in order to improve your comfort zone over time.
1) Create a Fake E-mail. This allows you to post on blogs and ask questions to people you look up to and maybe you’ll get lucky and catch a response. This also helps you evade your irrational fear of being “outed”
2) Talk to Store Clerks. From now on you’re not going to go into a store without asking a question, any question. If you’re buying a pair of shoes and you know which pair… No matter what you’ll ask someone their opinion at minimum.
3) Sign Up for a Social Event. If you don’t live on an island there will be free social events for you in a variety of hobbies. Go every week.
4) Take Up a Hobby You Would “Never” Do. It’s time to do the reverse of your personality. If you’re not changing you’re dying. Learn to sing, dance, write, paint anything you would never do.
5) Begin Talking to Everyone. Your goal is to befriend a “stranger” and keep in contact with them. Your social skills are now improving as you’re able to turn the switch on uncomfortable interactions.
6) Begin Filtering. Your new goal here is obtain strong relationships with the right people. Whoever you want to be. Rich, Artsy, Artistic, Smart, Sexy… insert description.
Repeat Step 4.
This list sounds like it is meant for a computer nerd. It is. The reason is that the computer acts as a quasi-contact to the real world when in fact it is no where near reality. You’re going to repeat steps 4 though 7 over and over again. When you can’t find things that make you feel uncomfortable, congratulations, you’re becoming a man. At this point you should turn your sights to making the full transformation. A real man is not afraid of real risk. The level of that risk can increase or decrease his value. If you need further proof think of all the men we look up to Entrepreneurs, War Heroes, Fire Fighters and the list goes on. The list of risky behaviors is quite large as the premise, unlike comfort zone expansion, is the following “To obtain we must give up”. Real risk involves downside to your physical, mental or financial well being. Three main concepts below.
Invested Time (Emotional/Financial). This one is the most obvious, block out a substantial amount of time to obtain or build something. The trick of course is that you should be using “borrowed time” you should be so busy already that you’re giving up another hobby to obtain this new skill/lucrative business. In this case you’re taking a small risk as you’re assuming the next venture will be more lucrative to you over the long-term than your current invested time.
Going All In (Financial). During your build up phase you’ve learned something. It’s time to use that knowledge to go all in. Draw upon your knowledge base and offer a service or invest heavily into something you know better than the back of your hand. This one is more related to financials as you’re banking on your years of knowledge for monetary gain.
Dangerous Situations (Physical/Emotional). Take that map of Manhattan and throw it into the trash. Get on a bus to Queens/Bronx/Harlem, anything that would make you feel physically threatened.
Conclusion: Since we live in a fearful society that encourages being scared of everything your best approach is to slowly raise your risk tolerance over time. In the extreme case where we’re afraid of “strangers” we should instead start at the very bottom as an anonymous person who admits he wants advice and build up to a person who is willing to take real risks. As you become more and more comfortable in your own skin, everything else will fall into place. Assuming of course you’re always putting in your best effort.