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Nothing Good Happens Inside Your Comfort Zone

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When I think of entrepreneurs, I assume they share certain characteristics. I assume they have business savvy. I assume they have experience in their venture. I assume they are risk-takers. I started a business and people started to refer to me as an entrepreneur, but since I had no business savvy, no experience with magazines and no interest in taking risks, I laughed at that description.

So how is it that I found myself starting a magazine for parents of teenagers? There are several reasons. One - it was a great idea. Two - no one else was doing it. Three - I was looking for a project. Four--everyone I asked loved the idea. Five--I wanted to read the magazine.

There was one underlying reason that may have trumped all of the others. I wanted to find a challenge.

Many years ago, I read an article about a woman who defined herself as a seeker of security rather than thrill. She was not a risk-taker. Never drawn to jumping out of planes or climbing Mt. Everest, she was not searching for the adrenaline rush that her siblings craved.

One day, feeling a little embarrassed by her lack of adventure, she realized that she could create that same adrenaline rush by pushing herself outside her comfort zone. She could choose to challenge herself mentally and emotionally instead of physically and that would be her thrill seeking.

Well, I took her words to heart. I don't like physical challenges that endanger my personal safety (or my family's). But after reading her article, I realized that I could do something every day that made me uncomfortable; saying yes to opportunities that were terrifying in different ways than sky diving (like saying yes to public speaking when the thought makes me want to throw up).

That's how I found myself embarking on a brand new venture that I knew nothing about. I made a personal commitment to push myself outside of my comfort zone. And now I do that almost every day.

But a funny thing happens in this learning curve. I used to be terrified to talk about money at a meeting. I was most comfortable telling our story and then following it up with an email that had a proposal attached. Now, after many stuttering moments with my heart pounding out of my chest, I can do it. In fact, the conversation feels necessary and obvious.

So asking for money started to become easier. And for a short time I got an adrenaline rush each time I did something to overcome that fear. Until that conversation happened with a calmly beating heart and asking just seemed natural. As good fortune would have it, when one challenge is overcome, another one replaces it. Something new always appears that is terrifying. Think of any number of new opportunities--an interview on TV, a presentation to potential investors--and that same sick feeling creeps up again.

What I can say with certainty is that anything that I have accomplished, in retrospect, seems like no big deal while anything that I can't yet do seems insurmountable.

Rinse and repeat.

Susan Borison is the Publisher and Editor In Chief of Your Teen Media. Your Teen Media: Helping parents understand, influence and guide their teenagers.

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.