Do What You are Terrible At to Build the Most Important Muscle
Stepping out of your Comfort Zone
A little over a year ago, I hosted a holiday wine, cheese and chocolate party. Everyone was mingling and having a great time. That’s when a neighbor mentioned that her broomball team was looking for female players, and asked my friend Jessica and me to join the team. Neither of us had ever played broomball, and weren’t exactly sure what we were in for. But, the wine was flowing and we somehow decided that joining the team and getting out of our comfort zone was a great idea.
“Broomball? Seriously?” a friend asked the next day. “You’re going to kill yourself.”
What is Broomball?
For those of you who may not know what broomball is, it’s played on the ice. A cross between hockey and soccer, the object of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team. You use sticks with a broom shaped head to push a small ball up and down the ice. Like hockey, you wear a lot of padding, but there’s no skates. Just your snow boots or tennis shoes to try to help you gain traction on the ice…which mine didn’t.
My new broomball team played at a tiny outdoor ice rink, right next to the train tracks. It was cold. It was noisy. But worst of all, I could barely move. Whenever I gingerly shuffled my feet, soon enough I’d be down on the ice. Everyone on the team had played for years. And while my friend Jessica’s skills were passable, mine were non-existent. I was really bad—by far the worst player on either team. That first night I went home cold, tired, miserable and deflated. I never expected to be this bad at something.
I wish this story has a happy ending, but it doesn’t. I never got any better. Week after week, I suffered through. My star moment was when someone came toward me with the ball. I tried to hit it, but missed entirely. My stick went flying up in the air and I fell into the arms of the opponent. Graceful.
Sticking it out.
So why did I stick it out? First, there’s real value in not being good at something—to swallow your pride, laugh at yourself and in my case, just accept the fact that broomball was something that I would never master. Every week I had a whole hour to strengthen my humility muscle.
When you’re humble, you open yourself up to the world and others. You recognize that everyone has her or his own unique brilliance and don’t assume you have all the answers. And when this happens, it lets others shine their light and share their gifts. It’s not about hiding what you’re good at, but about acknowledging that others may know more than you do, be a whole lot better at something than you are, and being comfortable in the fact that you can’t be good at everything.
Stepping out of your comfort zone.
I also stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new. I challenged myself, and wasn’t afraid to “fall down” (many, many times). Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone is actually the very first module we teach women in Street Business School.
I have wonderful role models on my internal SBS team, and in the many women who step out of their comfort zones every day and build successful, sustainable businesses. Like Sandra who went from selling old newspapers and candy on a mat, earning $1.60 US per day, to owning her own bustling vegetable stall with profits between $90-$150 US per week. Or Prossy, a hard-working single mother who can now send her kids to school with the money she’s making from her boiled corn business. The point is, if you stay inside what you are comfortable doing, you rarely grow.
My broomball career has come to an end. However, I’m fortunate that every day, what I truly find humbling, is working alongside women like Sandra and Prossy who are stepping out, transforming their lives and lifting themselves and their families out of poverty.