How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and Professionally
An Interview With Maria Angelova
Being your authentic self and being open to vulnerability saves you so much of the energy you would waste pretending to be someone other than yourself.
It feels most comfortable to stick with what we are familiar with. But anyone who has achieved great success will tell you that true growth comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. What are some ways that influential people have pushed themselves out of their comfort zone to grow both personally and professionally? As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maurice Harary.
Maurice Harary is the co-founder and CEO of The Bid Lab, a consulting company dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses find, manage and build their RFPs and proposals.
His experience building a company that started with just $1,500 into a company that has grown tremendously is a great way to help with stories and pitches outside of just procurement and the RFP process. Furthermore, he has helped countless small and medium-sized businesses win their first multi-million-dollar deals, and helping smaller businesses drives The Bid Lab’s mission!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Asa middle child in a family of six children, I draw parallels between my upbringing and my love of the bidding process: both require being an expert navigator of complex situations and contrasting personalities.
I attribute this ability to the experiences I had growing up. Born and raised in New York City, I attended New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business and graduated with a degree in Business and Political Economy. I knew, however, that I wanted to see, learn and experience more than what one city had to offer. So I committed to spending semesters in both London and Shanghai. Living in foreign cities taught me about the intertwining nature of business, politics, economics, and culture, which has been invaluable in my career thus far.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There is an old Japanese proverb: “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” Throughout the years as we have continued to expand and grow, there have been inevitable hiccups along the way. The key to overcoming these hiccups is that we EXPECTED them to happen. You have to be prepared for and accept bumps in the road when you are trying to do something great. What’s great is that we always get back up, even if the fall was so hard it sometimes takes a second to heal.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I was greatly impacted by the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg. That book specifically focuses on taking the attention off of getting and redirecting your intention to giving. It’s a powerful foundational shift.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s start with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What does “getting outside of your comfort zone” mean?
In the simplest terms, “getting outside of your comfort zone” means being vulnerable and unafraid to be afraid.
Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?
To me, getting out of your comfort zone allows you to be open, honest, and genuine. In short, being unapologetically who you are even when you feel pressure to be someone else.
Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone? Can you explain what you mean?
Being authentic and vulnerable opens you up to so many new experiences. If I hadn’t been vulnerable enough to leave a high-paying job at a huge company I would have never taken the risk of starting my own company. And if I hadn’t been my authentic self in starting that company, I wouldn’t have created the business that I have. I work with small and medium-sized businesses that are taking the risk of being vulnerable to expand their opportunities, and I show up for them in an authentic way to really understand their mission and be able to convey that effectively to win them more opportunities. It is my belief that good things don’t come your way if you aren’t willing to take the risk of being vulnerable.
Can you share some anecdotes from your personal experience? Can you share a story about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone and how it helped you grow? How does it feel to take those first difficult steps?
After years of hard work, The Bid Lab was finally at the home stretch of launching our new software, Bid Banana, which would enable small businesses to find new bid opportunities. Then, my second daughter was also born earlier than expected. In addition to that, a key team member had a health crisis that required her to step down from her role in developing the software. It was a double whammy. While we could have let this moment derail everything we had worked so hard for and push back our launch date, we did quite the opposite. My co-founder and wife, Jordan, worked with me around the clock to get the work done and done right. Having the newborn in the hospital, then luckily, at home, may have required us to work odd hours, but it did not diminish the amount of time spent. In fact, it allowed us to work smarter, and have a new sense of motivation for what we were working so hard to achieve.
Here is the central question of our discussion. What are your “five ways to push past your comfort zone, to grow both personally and professionally”?
- First and foremost, being your authentic self and being open to vulnerability saves you so much of the energy you would waste pretending to be someone other than yourself.
- Second, there is no way to succeed without risk and you’ll never take a risk if you aren’t willing to be vulnerable. Opening yourself up to the potential to fail is the first step to success.
- Third, being open and vulnerable allows you to create a team of support. I work with businesses every day who have had the vulnerability to come to me and say “I need help.” That first step in seeking outside support is what often leads to them winning big and growing their business more than they had ever thought possible.
- Fourth, it’s fun. I’m not kidding. We launched our new project, Bid Banana, an RFP search engine when we had a newborn, and raising those two together has been a blast!
- Finally, when you are truly honest with yourself and who you are it opens you up to a world of fulfillment. There is no way to find out what you really want if you can’t start by being honest with yourself first and then being brave enough to go after it.
From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?
Fear is the number one aspect that holds people back from getting out of their comfort zone. And for good reason. Being vulnerable and authentic takes work and it is scary. It’s been said many times because it is so very true, you can’t let fear win. Often, we are afraid to be who we are in the world because we fear rejection, but it’s far better to be rejected for yourself than for someone you’re pretending to be. And every failure, every rejection just gets you one step closer to success.
There is a well-known quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Do something that scares you every day”. What exactly does this mean to you? Is there inherent value in doing something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, even if it does not relate to personal or professional growth? For example, if one is uncomfortable about walking alone at night should they purposely push themselves to do it often for the sake of going beyond their comfort zone? Can you please explain what you mean?
Utilizing failure to create resilience: In life, and especially in business, we are destined to fail. So many of us when we fall are simply too stunned to get back up again. We remember the pain and we strive to avoid it again at all costs. But we shouldn’t be surprised by failure, we should accept and plan for it. Failing teaches us so much about ourselves, when we risk failure we learn resilience. Remembering those times you got back up again, even when it was painful, creates a repository of positive memories reminding us of when and how we turned a setback into a success. This resiliency is the key to building the belief in yourself to know, no matter the obstacle, you will keep going and you will eventually succeed.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I, too, used to go into a 52-story skyscraper in New York City in a full suit every day. But, when I founded The Bid Lab, I remembered that the people I worked most closely with on my previous team worked out of the UK and India. Why couldn’t I work closely with people who weren’t located geographically nearby to me?
The Bid Lab is, and always has been a remote company. While there are myriad reasons why remote work is worth championing (environmental impact, productivity, work/life balance, etc.) one of the reasons why I think it works best for The Bid Lab is because it allows us to hire from a unique pool of individuals. I’m looking at you, an amazing writer, living 3 hours outside of Albuquerque who needs to be available to her elderly mother in the afternoons. And I’m also looking at you, a sales superstar who wants to homeschool her kids but can also sell ice to an Eskimo.
I’m proud of the fact that The Bid Lab is made up of a team of individuals who have individual needs but also a common ability to log into work wherever they may be.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I’d love to meet Jeff Dean, the head of AI at Google. We use Google products all the time, and we are currently exploring some cool ways to implement AI through our newly launched software. He is brilliant and has been with Google since 1999.
How can our readers follow you online?
Check out all that we’re doing at The Bid Lab or Bid Banana. From articles in our Learning Center to our extensive list of Case Studies you can find information to grow your business or inspiration on how we’ve helped others grow theirs. You can also check us out on:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
Authority Magazine Article Link: Maurice Harary Of The Bid Lab On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and Professionally