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“When we exercise the courage to set AND ACT on goals that are connected to principles and conscience we tend to achieve positive results.” Covey/Merrill, ‘First Things First’

And this was brought home to me this week, in two ways.

First of all, I have been establishing a training and coaching business (see this page ) and the business model involves making calls to business to seek their help in my provision of a keynote talk on overcoming procrastination, a talk after which I invite the attendees to come to a formal programme. I may have mentioned before that I hate making telephone calls at the best of times, so making unsolicited calls at the end of which I may be rejected was, shall I say, challenging?

But I set the goals (probably months ago, to be frank!) to make said calls this week and, ennobled by a colleague’s own success in making an approach to estate agencies, I did the same. I made a list of local agents and worked through them.

I was not called names. I did not die a horrible death. I overcame my dread (okay, it’s not facing a horde of Zulus but I have been spared that horror because some braver men did it for me in 1879) and established a positive experience that will serve me in the future. I also salved the conscience that’s been shouting at me to act. Lesson taught, and learning accepted.

But there was an added lesson. As I was making these calls my son walked in on me. He is involved in a college course, part of which requires him to do 300 hours relevant work experience. He is a shy lad, but owing to the desire to get the work (farming) and the failure of the college to provide any meaningful assistance, he has had to overcome that reluctance to deal with people and he has spent the week touring farms, talking to strangers and asking them for help. He appears to have met with some success.

And the bombshell – having nagged him to get out and put himself about because that’s what we coaches do, he looked me right in the eye as I put the phone down on a call and said, “Now you know how I feel.”

Boom! Right in the conscience, son! Twist that verbal knife! (And impress me with your wisdom.)

And was he right? Damn right he was right!

When we overcome our fears, however small and illogical, we make ourselves something better than we were before. It might only be a little bit ‘better’ but as Emerson said, “Little by little we build our power.” I remember my first public speaking effort. I was asked just to introduce myself. I got up and burbled for two minutes, then sat down – desperately wanting another go! That ‘little’ built so much power in two minutes.

Every time we leave our comfort zone, regardless of the results, we grow. So does the zone, so we have to stretch further the next time we want to leave it. Occasionally we don’t only enter the ‘stretch zone’ that sits immediately outside the comfort zone. Occasionally we are shoved mercilessly into the Panic Zone. And when we emerge from there, battered and bloodied (or even unscathed) we are all the greater for having been there.

Seek your greatness. Stretch yourself. Listen to your conscience and your Unifying Principles and, when the opportunity arises or life asks you to comply with them – do so.

It’s fantastic.