“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
― Neale Donald Walsch
Last February, I had my biggest breakthrough in life as I learned to challenge my assumptions and beliefs.
It was one of my most fun weeks to date.
Because I’m very much into personal development, I invested in a coaching program that targeted men in improving all facets of life: at home, in business, and at work.
The process leading up to the decision wasn’t easy because it involved thousands of dollars and a weeklong commitment.
But the free value that I have received from the podcast episodes and articles were transformative and beneficial, as I have applied that practical advice in my life.
Also having faith, I believed that I would push myself out of my comfort zone to learn and grow.
As I finalized my decision during a hike in Santa Barbara, I remember asking myself this question.
“How much better can I be?”
That answer extremely excited me!
Filled with excitement, I accidentally arrived at the program (in Los Angeles) one day earlier than the scheduled date.
After I checked into the place, I met most of the men enrolled in the program.
Unsurprisingly they were all committed to improving themselves.
The first day involved breaking the ice by introducing ourselves to the group and the instructors.
Because of the value that I received within minutes of the program, my skepticism instantly disappeared.
Master Your Fundamentals
After learning the fundamentals of social dynamics, I had to the put the information to the test with a hired female actor.
Everyone had to go “meet” her one at a time while focusing on five fundamental areas: smile, eye contact, high energy, body language, and commitment.
Talking to women is already something that I do on a weekly basis. But with the extra men watching, I was feeling a bit more nervous than usual.
By my third attempt, I was in my zone and started with a banter line “Hey! You look like trouble!”
The entire third interaction was also recorded and analyzed later in class.
First I had to watch my interactions without audio, based on purely nonverbal communication of body language and facial expression.
I could barely watch since I’m not used to watching myself on video.
Afterward, I watched it with sound and it was even worse!
Listening to my voice was like listening to the sound of fingernails scratching against the chalkboard!
But the experience was invaluable as I saw areas of weakness that I want to work on such as giving less eye contact when I’m not speaking to lessen the pressure on the woman.
These fundamental social skills are subtle but effective as I practiced in attracting women, building rapport with other men, or deepening connections with family and friends.
They have become second nature the more I practiced and mastered.
Have you seen yourself on video during an interaction?
It might give important information on your strengths and weaknesses.
Use it a tool to help you grow and become a more powerful and effective communicator.
Later that night, I went to a local saloon bar. As soon I walked in, I signed up for a karaoke song.
It was one of my favorite karaoke songs, “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys.
When it was my turn to sing, a friend and I went up to the stage and started singing. Another friend joined us soon after and we became a band of a trio.
Everyone in the bar started singing along as the song brought back memories.
As I later found out, some of the women that my friends were talking to stopped their conversations because they wanted to sing along with us.
This fun momentum carried on during the night as I tried mechanical bull-riding for the first time.
After ten seconds of staying on the bull, I flipped in midair and landing on my back a few times and did things that I never thought were possible.
Those ten seconds felt like two seconds and that was my last time riding a mechanical bull.
Being self-amused, I was having a lot of fun and it became contagious.
My friends loosened up, talked to more people, and enjoyed themselves!
We gave each other high fives to build each other up.
Everyone in the saloon saw that, especially the women.
Therefore when I initiated conversation with some of them, they were extremely receptive because they saw what I had done.
They either saw and heard me sing, ride the mechanical bull, or just being self-amused with my friends.
Everyone, including women, want to have fun when they go out.
They naturally gravitate towards people who are fun.
The lesson here is to be the life of your own party.
Be outcome-independent and create your own fun wherever you are!
Become an Active Listener
The next day, I took some improv classes with the instructors. These are super fun as they have many interesting “games.”
The great thing about improv is that if you don’t know what to do during a scene. You say just that!
You throw your hands up in the air and say, “I don’t know what to do! Someone help me!”
Everyone will rush to help you because improv is about working together.
By far, my favorite improv game is the “pocket line.”
Before the scene, you pick a piece of paper with a pre-written line that you put in your pocket.
Despite not knowing what the line says, you pull it out and say the line some time during the scene.
During a bookstore scene, I was looking for a romance novel because I’m an affectionate guy.
Shortly after the scene, I pulled out the pocket line and told the bookstore clerk “I like the way water feels on my skin.”
I immediately followed it up with “Because I’m a romantic guy, I like to kiss in the rain.” for clarification.
Among other lessons, improv classes taught me to become a better listener by actively listening to what the other person is saying.
That allowed me to put the focus on the other person and not be stuck in my head. I don’t need to think about what to say next.
Everything that I need to build the conversation is in the other person.
Improv classes are still part of my lifestyle.
They improve my spontaneity, humor, and communication skills.
If you’re looking for a fun and interesting way to get out of your comfort zone, improv classes are an excellent choice.
Add Value to Everyone
The next day I had to walk through busy Hollywood Boulevard to ask for signatures.
Initially, I thought this was going to be easy because I believed most people are kind-hearted.
Man, was I wrong!
The first seven people who I talked to weren’t willing to help. Some of them were even afraid to make eye contact and ran away before I got close.
But despite the “rejections,” I used it as feedback for growth.
I changed my strategy for initiating conversation. Instead of focusing on what I want, I shifted the focus onto them.
Smiling with confident body language, I walked up to strangers on the street and said “Hi! How are you doing?”
The rate of positive responses improved dramatically as I was genuinely interested in them and giving them value.
After building rapport, they asked what I was doing.
Then I shared my story to get their first impressions of me.
They all had positive things to say such as confident, humorous, welcoming, brave, and courage.
Among the positive response rates, I still vividly remember that one hesitant meeting.
At the corner of my eye, I saw an African-American man wearing a hoodie and was sitting at the bus stop.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have conversed with him in a million years because I have been conditioned to believe the negative generalization and stereotypical stories of African-Americans.
But because I was in the mood for getting out of my comfort zone, I went up to him and asked how he was doing.
I ended up having an hour-long conversation listening to his life story filled with jokes.
He was a comedian (just like everyone else in LA!) and liked to the ride the bus to get ideas for his writing.
Realizing my track of time, I gracefully exited the conversation and met up with my friends.
Now in groups of two, I had to talk to anyone that my friend asked me to.
This forced me to be outside of my head even further and view the world through my friend’s eyes.
As a result, I spoke to people whom I normally wouldn’t talk to and nullified the decision-making process.
Even when the exercise ended, I talked some people who were waiting for their food at the restaurant.
A UPS driver and I ended up having lunch together.
Making her lunch hour memorable, my friends and I made her day.
This powerful exercise taught me to be social with everyone!
Regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity, everyone has value to offer.
Opportunities are out there and I’m responsible for creating those connections.
Speaking to strangers is a continual daily practice as I talk to everyone everywhere I go.
No one and nowhere is off-limits as I talk to the man in the sauna, that older woman at the grocery store, or that attractive woman at the gym.
It’s a healthy habit to add value to other’s lives and be social.
It prepares you when the right people show up in your life.
You won’t hesitate in taking the first step to creating a genuine and lasting connection.
Because of that one person, your life will be changed forever!
The Power of Storytelling
On the last day, I learned the art and impact of a well-told story.
To tell my story of why I do what I do professionally, I dug to the roots of it all.
My inspiration came from my parents.
In front of those eight men who I have only known for four days, I felt safe because they all have my trust.
They were my band of brothers who have fought with me in the trenches.
Lowering the shield and dropping the sword, I was ready to be 100% vulnerable.
As I was telling my story of moving to the U.S., tears started pouring down my face.
My parents’ unselfishness of leaving their parents, friends, and country behind for a better future inspired me to do something similar.
Witnessing the sacrifices that they have made for my brother and me, I was determined to make a positive contribution to the world.
That’s why I help biotechnologies companies improve their products so they can help preserve planet Earth by reducing their carbon footprint.
My story moved everyone in the room emotionally because they all had emotions.
They were able to sense my compassion for my parents even though they didn’t go through my exact experience.
But because they all have loved their parents or other people in the past, they can relate to my story.
It’s difficult and uncommon to connect with others on surface level things like common interests.
Since everyone has emotions, you can easily connect with them based on that!
Tell a personal story that encompasses a full spectrum of emotions, then your chances of connecting with others dramatically increases.
Learn to be vulnerable in your stories by presenting your genuine and authentic self.
That’s the only way to create powerful connections with others.
Challenge Your Beliefs
Of all the lessons that I learned that week, the most powerful of them all was this.
I learned to challenge my own assumptions and beliefs.
To challenge my beliefs, I had to ask myself the following questions:
What stories and narratives am I telling myself?
Are my beliefs allowing me to achieve my goals?
Are they allowing me to become the person that I want to be?
When I challenged my beliefs, I was able to identify the ones that didn’t serve me.
As a result, I started the subtractive process of removing self-limiting beliefs that I have developed since I was a child.
This process is like peeling an onion one layer at a time until I get to my true self.
I changed the stories and narratives that I told myself.
That yes I can become a great speaker!
Yes, I can start my business!
Yes, I can talk to that attractive woman!
Believing that I can that was the first step, but I still had to put in the work.
I learned how to become a great speaker, to start a business, and about male and female interaction.
But most important step of all was applying what I learned.
I joined Toastmasters and practiced speaking, took small steps in building a business, and talked to lots of women.
As a result, I’m slowly becoming a better speaker.
I get to impact hundreds of men with my articles and conversations.
And now I have an abundant dating life.
The simple change in my beliefs made it all possible.
Fear and doubt are what kept me from going after what I truly wanted.
Change is scary and uncomfortable, but it’s necessary.
Your greatest achievements and dream life is yours for the taking.
But you must be courageous and live out your destiny.
The first step begins with your mindset.
It’s time for you to do some introspective work.
- What stories and narratives are you telling yourself?
- Are they allowing you to achieve your goals?
- Are they allowing you to become the person that you want to be?
If not, then it’s time to challenge them!
Know that your beliefs developed somewhere in your past.
Recognize where they came from and identify the ones that don’t serve you.
Eliminate your false self and find your true self, one that has an honest, compassionate and functional relationship with yourself.
Once you achieve that, then you can do the same with others.
I know for a fact that you want to become a stronger version of yourself, or else you wouldn’t be reading this!
Maybe you don’t think you can have a healthy body, start your business, or deserve an attractive woman.
What do you believe?
It’s just like Henry Ford said.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t. You’re right.”
― Henry Ford
Your thoughts become your beliefs.
Your beliefs become your reality.
Change your beliefs and you will change your life!
Please share this article with anyone who you think may find it valuable.
If you have any questions and/or comments on challenging your beliefs, please leave a comment below or send me an email.
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