Breaking the Comfort Zone

I’ve noticed that when I start a new semester all the students in my classes always sit in the same seat that they chose for the very first class.

If it is not available, they will find their original seat the next week when they arrive on time.

But if they tend to always arrive late, they sit in the back.

The front row almost always contains above average students.

  • People look for ways to be safe and feel comfortable instead of changing seats and meeting new people.
  • Sitting in the back makes it harder to be called on (unless the professor knows that and calls on the back rows first).
  • It’s easier to be on your phone and digital devices in the back of the room unless the professor has great vision (I do).

Feeling safe in your comfort zone is a big deal.

Switching things up has its merits, too — you are training the pathways in your brain to take small risks, seek out discovery and meet new people.

Break a routine to discover something or someone new.

To Get Your Way

If there is something you really want, make it second in a list of three options.

Most people don’t like one thing because it is not a choice.

Two is better, three is best.

Put what you would really want them to choose second in the list.

I learned this from the great radio owner Jerry Lee and put it to work selling ads for my publication Inside Radio.

  • The one-year deal was the first option.
  • The two-year deal was the third option (it was less expensive than the one-year ad buy).
  • The second choice was the one I wanted an advertiser to choose – three years at the best rate.

About 40% of the time by my count, the second option (the one I wanted) was chosen.

People are shrewd:  It’s no choice when there is one or two options just the minimum alternatives, but with three it is your best chance to position what you desire in second place.

And by the way, this works at home and for personal things because any choice is a win-win for all parties but the second one is extra special for you.

Save the Best for First

Do you start with your best material or save it for the end?

Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow says start big by creating a halo effect that makes you more effective.

Speakers (and even professors) sometimes hold back the best stuff until the end and that would be a mistake.

But start with it and your chance of being successful will be improve.

Even at home with children – lectures don’t work because they’ve likely tuned you out before you can hit them with your best stuff.

In presentations, imagine blowing the audience away with the best you have instead of running the risk of losing them until the end.

Especially in the quick paced digital world in which we live in, go big from the start.

The Most Dangerous Piece of Advice

Fake it until you make it. 

Try that and you’ll be exposed as a weak person with no confidence.

Imitating confidence, competence and optimism trains you to simply imitate confidence, competence and optimism.

  • Be confident no matter what the outcome.
  • Never doubt your own competence – it’s always good enough and probably better.
  • Optimism is a choice not a feeling – you control it.

Better than fake it until you make it is — believe until you achieve.

Accepted or Excepted

To be accepted is to be included.

Excepted is not included.

Chasing acceptance is like circus elephants following each other in a circle never knowing whether they are following or leading.

Lead, don’t follow – the surest path to acceptance.


Tomorrow gives us hope.

Yesterday gives us information we can use.

Today is the day we get to put yesterday and tomorrow to its best use.

William Shatner

No matter what you think of today’s billionaires shuttling into space, it’s notable that astronaut William Shatner is 90 years old.

How many 90-year-olds do you know who could take a flight into space?

I clip stories about people who do remarkable things as a reminder to never let anyone else’s limitations become mine.

  • The 90+ year old who wins a marathon for his age group – over 5 miles and the last time I checked he was unhappy about his time and vowed to improve it next year – now that’s something to think about.
  • 11-year old Laurent Simons who in 2021 became the second youngest college graduate in history obtaining a bachelor’s degree in physics, of all things – you see, dreams are not age restricted.
  • Mark Zupan, a quadriplegic from a drunk driver and gold medal winning Paralympic medalist in wheelchair rugby, skydiver and main figure in the Oscar nominated movie Murderball let nothing stop him.

Focus on the possible and seemingly impossible to remind yourself how awesome you, too, can be.

Why waste time with can’t.

Resolving Conflict

I don’t know about you but when I was in college, I never thought about whether a person I was dating was a Republican or Democrat.

We didn’t give each other a Rorschach test on climate change, foreign policy, government or the economy before going out.

We were just looking for the good in each other.

In a divided world, we seem to start with conflict at home, at work and with our families.

Looking for points of agreement – not differences — can help overcome areas of disagreement and that is a powerful tool in resolving conflict.

Look for the good in others and the differences will take their proper place.

Secret Fears

Once you allow a negative thought to get into your head, it multiples.

  • Worry that you won’t live up to your own expectations or those of others that somehow matter to you.
  • That you’re not as good as people think you are.
  • When the success of others is painful to you because it activates jealousy.

You’re good enough – probably better.

Your expectations (the real ones that matter to you personally) are all that count.

Jealousy is like a smoke alarm warning you to cool down and remember that another person’s success has nothing to do with yours.

Exposing secret fears helps alleviate them.

Missing Milestones

One of the biggest fears is pressure to attain milestones and feeling like a failure when you don’t achieve them.

If you value work the most and you feel like you are slipping behind, it is a source of great anxiety that infects all areas of life.

Look at life as several compartments – career can be one, personal relationships, and self-fulfillment are two other important ones.

Spread the risk from career to other important areas so what happens at work doesn’t disproportionately ruin your life.

Missing a milestone rarely ever matters to people who refuse to give up.