The single, most important habit for business success

by Craig McBreen · 43 comments · Breaking out

What is it?

When you think of all the energy it takes to advance your career, your organization or make that epic entrepreneurial idea happen, what comes to mind?

Is there an action that you keep skipping?

A step that just might lead to the next rung?

A feat that’s not about ideas, dreams or ambition. Or skills, expertise or even swag. You have those covered, but skipping this most important drill often leads to being “stuck.”

It’s why you’re stalled and things aren’t panning out as you had hoped.

And it just might be why people are not lining up to do business with you.

Sometimes what you need to do is staring you right in the face but you can’t see it. This “thing” is not magical, elusive or complicated, but it can be pretty damned hard to put into practice.

It involves getting out of your element, being brave and acting in a completely unreasonable fashion.

It’s a routine that should be ingrained in your old noodle.

And it is about getting off the comfy “couch” of life and learning to embrace the jitters, welcome the unease and let those butterflies fly in formation.

If you strive to be the go-to girl or the guy who wants to be the thought leader in your industry or niche, where’s the needle on your comfort-level meter right about now?

If you’re settling for the same ol’ same ol’ would it be wise to assume you might be stuck in the dreaded comfort zone?

If you really do want to raise the bar by developing an irresistibly sticky brand, put your swag on high or take your online enterprise to the next level, you really need to understand one thing.

Comfort is the enemy.

Not getting out and doing means you’re settling because you’re apprehensive, nervous and downright frightened. Those feelings are normal and don’t go away, but you need to push through and learn to climb again, because complacency kills dreams daily.

If you want a killer tribe or long for customers and prospects who have a hankering for your content, why not be a little audacious?

Your attitude is sparked when you get bold and your once boring enterprise becomes an adventure. You like adventure, right?

What completely daring, brassy and downright unreasonable goals can you think of to make “it” happen?

What scary act do you need to do to make your brand shout “I’m your man?” … Or “I’m the woman who is going to rock your world, son!”

Figure out a way to do it and take step one today.

This all leads to more good stuff for you, but the thing is you have to keep earnin’ it. Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Need I go on?

To bring home the bacon. To take it to the next level. To attract “that” audience you really, truly need to fully embrace our friend, Discomfort.

Feel the pins and needles, embrace the willies and keep taking those small steps even when you don’t feel like it.

Stare discomfort in its big, fat, ugly face and take it on, daily. Then follow-through again and again and again.

Stop and examine your goals right now.
Are they maybe a wee bit too conservative? If so, it’s time to ramp up.

Small business owner. Blogger. Dreamer.
The rule still applies. Giving discomfort a giant bear hug might just be the best thing that ever happened to you.

This isn’t complicated, but it sure as hell works. Just figure out that first tough task and DO IT! Once you take that first step, it only gets easier.

Trust me on this, K?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Brent Carnduff September 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Words of wisdom my friend . . . ones that I needed to hear right now. I have developed a bit of a comfort zone lately and have been attempting to pull myself out of the past few days (with mixed results).

I just realized that I am justifying my comfort zone by finding other things to do, and do, and do. Kind of the whole “perfection is the enemy of done” syndrome.

Good post Craig – time to go make some of those calls!


Craig McBreen September 26, 2012 at 3:23 am

Hi Brent,

Well, I’m glad I could help ;) We all develop those comfort zones and one of the reasons I write posts like this one is to get my own act together. Gotta practice what I preach, right?

It’s easy to make plans, but acting on those plans daily is where that little bit of pain sets in and it’s so easy to slip into that busy work that often isn’t necessary.

Sometimes, just making a few calls makes all the difference ;)

Thanks for stopping in, Sir!


Bill Dorman September 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I wear comfort zone well but know as soon as you get comfortable you have a tendency to lose ground and go backwards. Fortunately, there are enough moving parts in my world I can find plenty of things to do to make me uncomfortable. But once you do them, usually good things happen and there really isn’t some big ol’ bear out there ready to eat you.

Keep the fire going and keep your eyes alive; don’t let that light go out.
Bill Dorman recently posted..3 reasons why I love Monday’sMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 26, 2012 at 3:35 am

Hi Bill,

But I imagine you know when it’s the right time to wear “comfort zone” and when you need to push through. With all you do outside of work, it’s quite obvious. Sounds like you have systems set up around you to keep the fire burning and make those good things happen.

Sometimes fear is a big ol’ bear, but we need to give him a swift kick in the bear chops.

Thanks for popping in!


Jackie September 26, 2012 at 3:09 am

Not only great words of inspiration but practical advice too Craig.

That gap betwwen knowing and doing is where nost people fall though the cracks, aided and abetted by that frequent visitor called fear, which presents itself in a number of guises (something which I recently wrote about too)

Taking that all important fist step is crucial because without it, you can’t take the next one.
Jackie recently posted..Fear & Love and Fifty Shades Of Grey InbetweenMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 26, 2012 at 3:29 am

Hi Jackie,

Thanks, and you’re so right. Making those plans is the easy part, really. The follow-through, not so much. It can be a bear and like you say, is “aided and abetted by that frequent visitor called fear” Powerful stuff, but you do need to take it on to succeed.

Thanks for the visit!


Jackie September 26, 2012 at 6:55 am

Bet you can’t tell I commented from my phone too lol…either I have dyslexic thumbs or my eyesight is on a rapid downhill slide ;)

Have a good week.
Jackie recently posted..Fear & Love and Fifty Shades Of Grey InbetweenMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 2:28 am

No I couldn’t … ;) That’s a skill I refuse to master ;)

You have a good week too.


Suddenly Jamie September 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I adore these mid-week pep talks. :)

Even though I’m singing in the choir you’re preaching to, reminders and nudges are needed to stay focused, inspired, and pumped up. It’s not enough to say “I’ll do it!” once. You have to, as you say, get that habit ingrained in your brain. You have to say “I’ll do it!” over and over, day after day, trial after trial, experiment after experiment.

I am a grateful member of a great mastermind and several tight-knit groups where we constantly remind each other about our intentions to get out there and do it. It’s an invaluable resource that keeps me from falling into that always tempting and nefarious comfort zone.

And when they’re not whispering in my ear. You are. :)
Suddenly Jamie recently posted..Connecting with prospects online – are you making it easy or hard?My Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 2:32 am

Hi Jamie,

Glad you like ‘em!

I need reminders all the time, and you’re right. It’s not enough to say “I’ll do it!” once, because we know that train never stops.

Great you have those groups behind you. That’s awesome and sounds like its a brilliant way to avoid the dreaded comfort zone.

I’ll be whispering … or maybe shouting out these pep talks in the future. You can bank on that :)

Thanks for coming by!


Suddenly Jamie September 27, 2012 at 2:38 am

And now I have a visual image of you doing this:

Suddenly Jamie recently posted..Connecting with prospects online – are you making it easy or hard?My Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 3:07 am

I just danced and shouted and you missed it ;) That one always makes me want to dance. Love the You Tube comment about it being played at the University of Oregon football games after the 3rd quarter, and the experience of 60,000 people jumping and shouting in the stands.


Ralph September 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Craig, I am the poster boy for discomfort. Ha! I have never satisfied with what I have had career wise but, you know, sometimes that “push” has gotten me into trouble for the express reason that the stick-to-it-ness has not always stuck or maybe I just sucked at it.

That’s an important aspect of this post that seriously resonates with me.

Embracing discomfort is a very, very good thing but knowing it’s the right move takes some serious skill too. I have lived that one! No one ever got anywhere being too conservative but what did Seth Godin call the contrary? Blind optimism? Sometimes knowing when to quit doing something is as important as trying to push the envelope.

I know this may sound like a negative but it’s not meant to be. Hope it’s not taken that way.

Loved the topic! You, my fine friend, are rockin’ it more that we all know.
Ralph recently posted..The Studio: Ep1: A new beginning: How does it feel to start over?My Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 2:38 am

Hi Ralph,

You get out and do, huh? Good for you, Sir!

I like what you are saying about blind optimism. I think plenty of people do that in this here blogosphere. They get on the hamster wheel of content creation and don’t have plan 1 as to what the heck they are doing. You can be brave and push through, but without some plan you ‘ll get nowhere fast. So, I like what you and Mr. Godin have to say about this.

Good points and thanks for stopping in, and for the kind words. Really appreciate that!


Ralph September 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm
Craig McBreen September 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Well, he’s a good one to parrot ;)

Crazy rodent … “just a normal day in the wheel” … :)


Jayme Soulati September 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Getting off the comfy couch…indeed. Several peeps still posting about restlessness in social media. My theory on that is they’ve become complacent, comfy with Social Media 1.0.

When you push to engage and deploy in new areas, there’s nothing comfy about it. In fact, it’s downright painful to master (or think about any mastery). But, what happens is the mojo kicks in and the excitement about new learnings take over.

If that doesn’t happen, well, I have no idea…maybe the shrink’s couch? LOL
Jayme Soulati recently posted..Q&A With FeedBlitz CEO Phil HollowsMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 2:41 am

Hi Jayme,

Yes, indeed, … Getting off the comfy old sofa ;)

You’re right about social and getting comfortable. Part of the discomfort is simply learning new things. Heck it can mean so much, but as long as you are pushing the boundaries, learning, making things happen in your own way, well, that rocks and life would be pretty boring otherwise, me thinks.

Let’s keep bringin’ the moo!

I imaging this social craziness has sent more than a few peeps to the couch you speak of … ;)


Krista Kotrla September 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Couldn’t agree more, Craig! This past year has served up numerous moments of staring fear in the face and learning to give it a giant bear hug (loved your reference). Facing and embracing meant believing and achieving something awesome.

Perception in these moments is huge. Was I going to play the victim card or dig in and do something about it?

More importantly, I realized that NOT taking action because of my own fears impacted more lives than my own. So changing my perception to see how facing fears would benefit others helped me be much more brave.

Thanks for this awesome reminder today, Craig! Keep being a warrior of enthusiasm!



Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 2:46 am

Hi Krista,

Awesome! About the giant bear hug reference: I think it’s a good practice to embrace discomfort daily and it’s been the best way forward for little old me.

Glad you’re making your moves and facing fear daily. Great to hear. And you’re right about perception. It is all how you look at any situation. And another great point regarding not taking action. This does impact others and facing fears can change more lives that one.

You keep on a movin’ too, Krista! Thanks!


Mark September 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

And if you avoid discomfort, sometimes you just need to kick your own a_s…

For some reason, this Jim Carey piece popped into mind after I read this post, lol.

Cheers, Craig!
Mark recently posted..Building Success on the Social Web One Relationship at a TimeMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 2:52 am

Hi Mark,

I’ve had days like that. Never squished my head with a toilet seat though ;)

I’ve never seen a self-ass-kicking quite like that. He beat the hell out of himself. Maybe you could just try and visualize big ol’ fear and squish it with a toilet seat.

Thanks for that :)


Jill Tooley September 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Have you seen the Ben Folds Five music video for “Do It Anyway,” their new single? It’s been highly inspirational to me lately and sort of goes hand in hand with the points you mention here. (Plus, it has Fraggles in it…’nuff said!) :)

Boy, are you right about comfort being the enemy! The second we settle for less is the second we jeopardize our own potential. We’ve got to keep working day after day, week after week, whether we whine about “feeling like it” or not. We’ll never get anywhere otherwise.
Jill Tooley recently posted..9 Walt Disney Quotes for Startup and Entrepreneur InspirationMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 2:58 am

Hi Jill,

I dialed it in and see that it’s on the Nerdist channel, of course. You’re a Chris Hardwick fan, right?

Nice song and vid.

“Paralyzed by a voice in your head … do it anyway” Amen! :)

Fraggles, huh. Nobody invited Gorgs and Doozers? ;)

And you’re right. The trick is in doing this stuff daily. Gettin’ off the comfy sofa and taking on the bear of fear.

Thanks for the comments, vid and Fraggles!


Jill Tooley September 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Hi Craig! Glad you liked it. To say I’m a Chris Hardwick/Nerdist fan would be an understatement… :)

I loved that song the first time I heard it. It really resonated with me! (The entire new Ben Folds Five album is excellent, in case you were wondering.)

The bear of fear? That sounds terrifying. I think that bear gets bigger the longer we sit on our comfy sofas, too. Maybe I should put up a “Don’t Feed the Fear Bear” sign in my office!
Jill Tooley recently posted..Mini Promotional Items: Irresistibly Adorable Ideas for That ‘Aww’ FactorMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Good to know. I used to listen to his podcast quite a bit. Might have to pick it up again … been listening to too many blogging podcasts :)

“Don’t Feed the Fear Bear” sign :) Love it!


Kaarina Dillabough September 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm

“I feel the need for speed”
That. is. all:) Cheers! Kaarina
Kaarina Dillabough recently posted..Restless Feelings in this Online WorldMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 3:02 am

Hi Kaarina,

Well, that was enough ;) Hey, this is a day for videos.

Deal with that old danger zone. Now if I could just get a ride in one of those F-14s ;)


Jane McKay September 27, 2012 at 3:47 am

Keep it coming Craig. I’m standing on the precipice waiting to take the great leap into discomfort and you just might motivate me yet!


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Hi Jane,

Thank you! I sure will too.

Let us know where that leap takes you, K?

Thanks for stopping in. I really appreciate that!


Adam September 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Good advice Craig. It’s easy to get stuck in a comfort zone, because that’s where it’s, well… comfortable.

When I think of getting stuck like that I think of the quote: “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”
Adam recently posted..7 Secret Customer Service Techniques Every Expert Knows: Our eBook is Here!My Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Hey Adam,

Indeed. Comfortable is fine, but it’s where nothing worthwhile gets done.

That quote sums this up perfectly.

Thanks so much!


Tim Bonner September 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Hey Craig

I like comfort! I don’t think it’s my enemy. I think you need to take time to develop things, get comfy in them and then move on. There’s no point in going in blind.

That’s not settling for something. It’s just building knowledge and confidence in something and becoming comfortable with them isn’t it?

I’m becoming comfortable with who I am as a blogger so I’ve taken up an invite to do a guest post. That’s pretty daring for me right now!
Tim Bonner recently posted..Experiences Of An Impulse BuyerMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Hi Tim,

I like it too, at certain times ;) We’ve all jumped into something too quickly without thinking and that can sometimes develop into a situation you want no part of. Now I don’t go in blind, but I do like to take some chances.

I agree with you, but there does come a point where you have to test your mettle and that’s what I’m really writing about. Build your knowledge and then push yourself. I imagine you’re doing that a lot these days, huh?

Congrats on the guest post!


Josh September 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Hi Craig,

I needed this today. I have a plan to shake things up but I haven’t moved on it yet. I think it is time to jump off the cliff and learn how to fly. With some hard work and luck I won’t crash and burn.

A little risk can go a long way.
Josh recently posted..The Myth of the “Money Is In The List” MantraMy Profile


Craig McBreen September 27, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Hey Josh,

Great to hear and I look forward to seeing whatever it is you have in store for us.

A little risk can indeed go a long way :)

Talk to you soon!


Jon Buscall September 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Yes, it’s about getting out of your comfort zone, but I think analysis initially is essential. No, not Woody Allen-esque analysis but a critical assessment of where you’re at and where you want to go.

Funnily enough I was having a conversation about this today and my friend said the most important part of this was actually seeing the success in your mind’s eye. Visually seeing what it’s like can help give you the impetus, the confidence and reaffirm the desire to over come those mental chains.


Craig McBreen September 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Hi Jon,

I won’t jump into anything without analyzing. Heck, I was commenting all over the place for a bout three months before I finally made my blog live ;)

Visualization is so important and to me, it’s not a matter of thinking you can do it. It is Knowing you can do it. True power there if you put in the work.


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