What is the scariest thing you have done that you knew would help you grow, but required you to blow off the friendly confines of your comfort zone?

Scary behaviors {aka, things that we do despite our hands shaking, stomach roiling, and heart racing} are the opportunities of exponential growth and development. Despite our legs wobbling in the moment, they provide us with huge doses of self-confidence and encouragement. Fortunately, there are other less “scary” and psychophysiologically intense behaviors that leaders engage in regularly to advance their journey of professional and personal success

To be a great leader, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone. At times, you must be willing to stand against the popular tide and engage in those difficult conversations. You must be willing to face disappointment, rejection, and failure in order to move forward and grow. Leaders know that these experiences of short-term discomfort are seeds that, when embraced rather than shunned away from, will develop and bloom into success. There is often a fine line between excitement and the verge of panic. You must be willing to withstand brief discomfort to find out how far you are willing to go in your long-term journey of success. It can be scary and full of uncertainty.

To be at your top level, leaders must be willing to constantly push themselves to perform at his or her best. Daily activities for top performers include tracking behaviors, focusing on positive thoughts, and acknowledge and quickly diffuse intense emotions that can cloud your judgment and lead to poor decision. In addition time focused on being productive, space must be allowed for the mind to step away from the business of the day in order for higher learning and creativity to be achieved. You can try driving a car with an empty gas tank, but your progress will be minimal while your experience of frustration and inefficiency will be maximal. Great leaders recognize that moments of silence are required in order to hear his or her inner wisdom. Daily organization, planning, and preparation are required to effectively reach your goals. Each day you are making decisions that will bring you closer or further away from your short-term and long-term goals.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do children as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Performing at one’s top level is also not just about what you are doing, but what you are thinking and how you are feeling. The best leaders embrace everything they do with their heart and soul. Trusting your intuition is a powerful tool; however, it can easily become a force of destruction if motivated by self-interests alone. Your purpose in life far more than a clothing brand or the size of a paycheck and it is fundamental to know what motivates you at your core. During the tough and dark times, an amazing resource to help get you through is to be able to answer the question of “Why am I doing this?” and reconnecting with your purpose to push you forward and avoid wallowing in despair and helplessness. The wheels will be back on the tracks the sooner you get refocused on your true purpose. Distractions are the enemy to leadership growth and development.

ACTION TIME: Right now, take a moment to reflect on those experiences that really pushed you to get out of your comfort zone. What long-term positive results come from the temporary discomfort? And, looking forward, do you have any more of those “scary” and growth-packed opportunities on your schedule? If not, it most likely that you’re due to get scared into success!

Nicole Pacheco, President/Owner of Professional Edge, is a peak performance coach and consultant. She works with athletes, musicians/performers, as well as business and medical professionals to help them achieve their highest possible mental and physical performance.