Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

What exactly does stepping out of your comfort zone mean? Stepping out of your comfort zone means doing things that you are not normally comfortable doing. It’s about getting outside of your comfort level. We all have systematic ways of doing the tiniest things in our daily lives. Like a routine. For the average person a daily routine may sound something like: wake up, shower, have breakfast, go to work, leave work, go to the gym, go home, prepare dinner, shower, eat dinner, watch some television or surf the internet/ check social media accounts/ reading, go to bed to do it all over again tomorrow. Everyone is different and there will be variations to this as nothing is set in stone, but most persons once they have a routine gets annoyed or frustrated by having to switch things up. The following photograph depicts exactly what stepping out of your comfort zone means.

For me, one of the most life changing events of coming out of my comfort zone was relocation. Back in 2008 a coworker who had done lots of travelling and lived in different countries said to me there are so many opportunities available for someone with my skillset in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. He proceeded to do a google search to show me what he meant. I was totally amazed by what I saw. This led me to conduct my own research into relocation, opportunities, lifestyle, crime statistics etc. in both islands. When I had completed that research and felt comfortable with the outcome, I decided to start applying for jobs. My first interview went very well and I was offered a job the very next day which I accepted without hesitation.

I resigned from my job and the countdown began! Several weeks after, I packed up most of my life in two suitcases and moved thousands of miles away from my family, friends and most importantly, out of my comfort zone. I arrived in the Cayman Islands and the only person I knew here was my contact at the recruitment agency. This changed quickly as I began making friends from my very first day at work, some of who turned out to be life long friends. I thoroughly enjoyed life on this little sunny island and I have never regretted stepping out of my comfort zone because if I had not, I would not have experienced as much I have. This situation also made me fearless. Knowing that you are all alone in a strange place gives you strength that you did not know even existed.

Another life changing event for me was the moment I decided to step out of my comfort zone once again and joined the Buddies Toastmasters Club. I decided to step out of my comfort zone where I would normally be afraid to speak in front of a group or make presentations etc. I first attended as a guest however, because this is something I have deliberated on and procrastinated on for a very long time I had made up my mind that this is exactly what I needed to do and I proceeded to join that very day. I totally enjoyed my first meeting and I have enjoyed listening to several speeches from members, participating in the table topics segment which gives the opportunity to speak impromptu which is really important for me because in reality, you are not always asked to prepare a speech. Day to day situations require impromptu speaking and thinking on the spot. After participating in two segments of table topics, I participated in an unexpected ice breaker at my Lions club. Normally in a situation like this, my stomach would have been in knots however, I felt more confident, thought about my answer for a few seconds and stood and responded to my question like a true pro. I even gave my first speech to the club which is something that I never ever thought of doing prior to joining the club. After giving my first speech, I felt very accomplished and motivated to do more, to work on my weaknesses, to use the invaluable feedback I received from members to enable me to become a competent communicator. Was I nervous, of course! Do I have any regrets? Certainly not! In fact, my only regret is not joining this amazing club sooner!

This photo shows that in order to experience the things that make life worthwhile and interesting, there is that awkward stage when stepping out of your comfort zone.

I can certainly say that stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing. The one thing that is constant in this world we live in is change and when in your comfort zone, your brain does not want anything to change. Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone from time to time creates just enough good stress to ramp up your focus, get your creative juices flowing, gives you that desire to do something and it also helps you respond to life stress when unexpected things happen. I hope that this will challenge you to step out of your comfort zone too.

Written by Jamie Wells-Fletcher

You’ll be a Great Speaker!

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.”

George Jessel, a great comedian, also a former Toastmaster once said that, and he was right. It was exactly what my brain acted before I joined Toastmasters. I published some books in my home country, but I was profoundly bad at speaking; book promotions were always disasters. When someone asked a simple question, I became like fish out of the water — gasping for air, moving mouth without a voice, and smiling to show I wasn’t in need of immediate medical treatment. Creepy, yikes, indeed!
That was me before I found my speech strength in Toastmasters. I won some speech contests, took training whatever available/affordable; now speak professionally — even became a certified speaking coach. If I could do it, you can do it, too.

The secret was simple: practice with The Right Mindset and Effective Methods of Learning, and most importantly, you’ll need The Right Buddies. Let’s break down each of them.

1. What is The Right Mindset?

Yes, you can become a great public speaker because you are still reading this. It shows your determination – that’s what pushes you through the journey. Your determination is the right mindset; keep it in your heart no matter what happens (or whatever you are told). There are times you feel discouraged, your passion gets dimmed, dark clouds of doubt loom over you — but that’s when you need to remember why you wanted to become better speaker/presenter. Shouldn’t it worth the effort, march through the setbacks? I’m guessing your answer is yes, as I’ve been through many times.

When you feel like discouraged, please don’t push yourself to the edge. Instead, imagine if you are your best friend. Talk to you as your best friend would do, treat yourself as the same.

Often, we are hard on ourselves — it’s natural when we get frustrated, things didn’t go as we expected. But think this: is beating yourself really helping you, now? Your goal is to improve and grow; you’ve got a lot else to do. It’s a slippery slope to self-pity when you start blaming yourself (yes, I’ve been there. And that wasn’t pretty).

Remember you have the strength, that’s why you started this journey. At Buddies, we all experienced the “ditch” and know how hard it can hit you. We also know a warm encouragement, a gentle nudge can do a wonder; we support you with all our hearts. Embracing struggles can be the most significant catalyst to your own growth; you’ve got this & Buddies got your back.

2. Effective Methods of Learning

No, “simple” doesn’t mean easy, unfortunately. Prepare some work to do, but it’s well worth it. Let’s dig deeper for some methods.

Effective methods include: Know what makes a good speech, Learn some speech structures, Learn how to handle your anxiety. Then, practice speech delivery. Let’s tackle one by one:

Know what makes a good speech: Toastmasters International offers many manuals and paths. At Buddies, you can consult with club officers and experienced members how to set your goals. We also offer to mentor; when you get the right mentor, the growth is tremendous. Don’t worry, if you and your mentor don’t work well, you can always seek a different mentor.

Learn Speech Structures: Whatever the path you choose, knowing some types of speech structures will help. For example, when you need to speak off the cuff, this structure does wonder:

  • Decide your answer, tell it in a few words “I believe/think/ that…”
  • Provide 1-2 examples/reasons/data that supports your answer: “For example, I happened to know…”
  • Conclude by repeating your point, “And that is why I believe/think that…”

More on: Speech Prep: Structure Sample:

This structure gives your listeners a sense of completion. It’s a mini version of the bookend method; making a full circle by starting with your main point and repeating the point at the end. Once you are familiar with the structure, you can concentrate on thinking about your answer/opinion/message. Tabletopics session at Buddies meeting is a perfect place to practice for speaking off the cuff.

How to handle your anxiety
I always do this and recommend to try: when you are nervous and shaky/jumpy before your speech, try not to calm yourself.

Yes, you read it right: most people say you need to calm down, but it’s actually a hard thing to do when your adrenalin is running full throttle. Instead, say to yourself, “I’m excited!” (you should be, you practiced hard!) and your mind will be pumped up, becoming “Yeah, I’ve got this!” mode. No, I’m not making this up, there is a study: Why saying ‘I am excited’ makes you perform better It was a lifesaver. Before that, I ran around the building/street because I was super jumpy! I wish I knew back then…

Practice speech delivery
Practice in front of a mirror (minimum), in front of your speech buddy (better), deliver your speech at a meeting, watch it from our recordings (the best).

The most effective way is to record your speech and watch it and learn what worked/didn’t. It’s hard to watch yourself, oh yes, I know, but you will gain SO much. I promise you. 2001 public speech World champion Darren LaCroix often says, “If you can’t watch your speech, what about your audience?” Ouch, but true. I must confess, though…

To be honest, it took me a couple of months just to watch myself. The first couple of times, I hit the reply button and had to leave the room or even went outside (what was I thinking? Beats me). Once I got used to, it sure propelled my speech improvement. Believe me, your recorded speech is a treasure box. You can learn so much from your own speech, what to emphasize, what to cut, what you are good at, what to improve, etc. At Buddies, we record each meeting so members can watch it; it’s an amazing cost-efficient practice method. Take advantage of it!

3. You Need Right Buddies

Yes, practicing speech is simple but No, it’s not easy. A great speech is not one-time use, it should be practiced and improved so you can connect with your audience deeper and better.

Once you create your signature speech with the message you want to spread, it becomes your lifetime asset. You can start speaking at your local groups, church, conferences, Shark Tank, Create Youtube, Online courses, and write a book about it, and on and on; the opportunities are countless.
Some of the Buddies became successful life coaches, Youtubers, succeeded at his scholarship interview, gave a presentation in front of Shark Tank (!), won a speech contest, got a book proposal, and the great news keeps coming in.

Did they achieve it at ease? No. I know their struggles, and they overcome with the tenacity, also got support throughout their journey. To find and express your authentic voice, you might need to deliver multiple speeches and multiple times to refine them. Yes, you are right, it takes time. Who is patient enough to take the journey with you? My answer is, well, I guess you know it already, and you are right: Buddies Online Toastmasters. Buddies is an international family, a rare combination of professionalism and friendliness. We encourage each other, celebrate together, and we are unstoppable to get better. The only boundary can be your time zone: Check out the local time converter; visit a meeting as a guest.

Yes, you will be a great speaker:
1. Commit yourself to the goal of yours
2. Learn proven methods & practice
3. get your buddies and keep going!
Simple doesn’t mean easy — we are here to support you.

Got interested? Guests are always, always welcome.
Visit us:

From Misako

Ride share your way to better speaking skills

Have you ever shared your ride with someone? did you like it? Was it fun, entertaining or was it a complete disaster? Whether we want it or not, ride sharing apps are becoming more and more common in our society, and many countries are picking it up. Big companies like Uber and Lyft have pioneered the idea and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna stop anytime soon.

Trending ride sharing apps

When I moved from NYC to California, everyone told me I HAVE TO buy a car. I decided to challenge the idea and said, “What if I don’t?”.

If you own a car, you probably know better than me, all that takes to maintain, pay for insurance, gas, parking, car washing and on and on. That sounded too much of a hassle and although NYC is the complete opposite of the West Coast in terms of public transportation availability, I still thought it wouldn’t hurt trying.

Side by side comparison of NYC and San Diego subway systems

About two years later and completely ride sharing dependent, something happened…

I met the most interesting, fun, real and honest human beings I’ve ever met in my entire life, in such a relatively short period of time. Being locked in a car with strangers turned out to be more fun than I ever imagined. It allowed me to strengthen my communications muscles at every ride I took.

Being an opportunist Toastmaster as I am, I started to sneak in some bits of my speeches during most of those conversations. Curious about me? Here’s the best version of my Ice Breaker. Want to learn about Toastmasters? Here goes my Toastmaster of The Day role intro. Want to hear about one of my favorite stories? Get ready to listen to my best speech to date! It even served as a place to explore and practice speeches in the works.

The only real difference is that there isn’t a stage, but instead a setting for a casual and exciting conversation. Which is to me the key ingredient to the best speeches I’ve ever listened; the ones that don’t feel rehearsed or prepared, but instead more spontaneous and organic, tailored to the audience.

Just like at Buddies. Uber rides allowed me to meet a diverse number of very interesting people, who served as an audience to topics I was passionate about. The big difference is that Buddies are more supportive and friendly, with great focus on feedback and improvement, where ride sharing isn’t nearly as close.

Where else are you finding opportunities to share your message to the world? It doesn’t have to end in your Toastmaster meeting.

Let the FEAR be Fear

I’m huge on topics that relates to overcoming my insecurities, anxieties, shame and specially fear. As I researched how to overcome the latter, I was normally told that we can be fearless, defeat it and once and for all, live my life being 100% fear free. I was also told that fear is nothing but an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.

I now laugh at that, but I used to truthfully believe that if I worked hard enough, I could become fearless. Because well, it’s not real according to that widely publicized four letter acronym, right?

Meh, don’t worry! it’s all just FEAR…

WRONG. Let me tell you something, if you’re at the beach and a great white shark shows up swimming towards you. Is that a false evidence appearing real?

Fear is Fear. Period. What’s real for you is real and no one can say otherwise, unless you say so. The idea of being fearless has been proven wrong over and over again, through meticulous research by scientists, the military and mere civilians like you and I.

Brandon Webb, a US NAVY Seal who was involved in the Osama bin Laden attack, taught a good old friend how to swim in a week. This same friend have had numerous prior failed attempts to learn from various swimming classes. The recipe?

  1. Make a decision
  2. Curate your environment
  3. Rehearse
  4. Stretch your circle of competence
  5. Know that you’re never really safe

Yes, that’s it. Obviously this is a simplification and relative to each person and their fears. But really, those are the steps that will help you master your fears.

Brandon asks for a one week commitment from his friend to show up every morning, so he can teach him how to swim and essentially master the fear of water.

  1. His friend decided to commit to this one week plan (Make a decision)
  2. Sure he could’ve thrown him into the beach and asked him to start swimming, but that would just increase his trauma. Instead, they started at the shallower area of the pool (Curate your environment)
  3. He committed to the one-week plan and showed up every single day. They did that over and over to increase his familiarity and confidence with his surroundings (Rehearse)
  4. He slowly began moving from the shallow part of the pool to the deeper areas, incrementally. To a point where he cannonball water his way into the pool towards the end of the week! (Stretch your circle of competence)
  5. Could he have lived his entire life without learning how to swim and overcoming his fear of water? Sure. But really, what would he be saving himself from? People are dying every single day from various unexpected reasons, why not embrace the nature cycle of life? (You’re never really safe)

Is this also sounding very familiar to you?

I struggled with public speaking since I know myself as a human, but decided to change this once and for all. No matter how much effort and how long it would take me.

I finally found a community for educating and training people that was going through the same challenges I was. I joined the group as a guest a few times, became a member and went from the easier challenges to the harder ones. I continued showing up over and over, and slowly was able to be giving more speeches than I ever thought I would in life.

About a year ago I made a decision, curated my environment, rehearsed my speeches, joined meeting after meeting and although I know the world out there is a dangerous place, I don’t really think I will ever die on stage.

One of my favorite stages? Buddies Online Toastmasters Club. Where I get to speak and get immediate feedback from the most internationally diverse audience I’ve ever been part of; China, Japan, Belarus, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Curacao, Puerto Rico, USA, etc.. Buddies is helping me become the speaker that can connect with minds of any parts of the world, and for that I am very grateful.