By Sunny Simon

The other night I attended a panel discussion based on Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In.” It was an interesting and lively dialogue leaving me with many valuable take-aways. One of comments that resonated with me came from a panelist named Stacy, a licensed physical therapist.

Pertaining to her treatment of stroke patients, Stacy explained if they are comfortable in their therapy she is not doing her job. She added, “For the brain to recover, to build new pathways, we have to stretch ourselves outside our comfort zone and experience new things.”

Stacy shared how she applies that philosophy to her everyday living. “If you’re feeling comfortable with your life and your career, change it up.  We are only growing when we’re uncomfortable.”  Each day she challenges herself to step outside of the box, no matter how scary or how loudly her inner voice begs her not to. Stacy believes in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt who urged us to “do one thing every day that scares you.”


Eleanor is indeed an admirable role model. In her memoir “My Year with Eleanor,” Noelle Hancock gains the courage to face scary growth challenges on a daily basis by studying the life of the former First Lady. The author committed 365 days to following Eleanor’s wise counsel on the benefits of embracing challenges and overcoming our fears.

Think about it. Whether it is challenging a minor fear daily or a monster fear over time, the key to accomplishing tasks is having the guts to do it. Take a look at the list of goals you created for 2014. Are any missing? Perhaps it’s the thing you would like to accomplish most but are just too darn chicken to attempt.

Try rethinking the goal with an if/then scenario. For example, years ago I wanted to carve out a successful corporate career. The only thing preventing success was my fear of public speaking. Rising through the ranks meant having the courage to face a group of two or two-hundred or more. My if/then was proposal went like this: If I conquer my fear of public speaking then I will be able to grow my career. Wanting it badly enough prompted me to enroll in a Dale Carnegie course. Still no easy feat, I repeated the course twice to make sure I would no longer tremble with knees knocking when asked to present to an audience.

What’s holding you back? Commit to looking fear in the face and staring it down. As Stacy so wisely advised, if you are comfortable, you are not growing. !

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at

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