How To Actually Be Your Own Hero & Learn To Live Free, From Someone Who's Done It
"Living free" is a sexy concept. But the truth is, the act of true freedom takes an immense amount of courage, as it means you have to step outside of that oh-so-familiar yet extremely dangerous abode: your comfort zone.
When we step outside of our comfort zones, we risk being wrong, disliked, rejected, damned, misunderstood, or exposed. This is the price we all pay on the path to authenticity.
And yet, no one changed the world by staying comfortable. Comfort zones are the enemy of freedom: your own and the world's. Comfort zones stand between you and your full potential. Comfort zones prevent you from building your unapologetically authentic personal brand. Comfort zones hold you back from making a meaningful difference in the world.
Be loved or be hated, but do not be ignored.
The most inspirational people are those who reached an inflection point in their own lives and careers and took the leap to change. This is how you make a true impact. This is how you change the world. This is what "living free" actually means. This is what it can actually do.
It's easy to spot when someone is stepping outside their comfort zone in the public arena when we look at well-known speakers, authors, and athletes like these. But heroic acts of "living free" and risking the potential of exposure, failure, rejection, and disapproval are actually happening all around us, all the time, with the people you know and love the most.
Naomi had been working for an insurance company as an internal wholesaler since she graduated from college. She loathed it. At age 36, she gave birth to her first child and was so touched by her experience at the hospital working with her pediatric doctors, nurses, and sonographers that she decided to quit her job and go back to school to get her degree in sonography. Everyone in her family was shocked. She and her husband fought for months as they struggled to find the money to cover costs for nannies and sitters and to support her going back to school. It took four years for Naomi to get her certification. Today, she works at a hospital, empowering her patients with all kinds of ailments to better understand their bodies. She wakes up every day excited about life. She is a better wife and a better mom for it.
A single mom at 45 years old, Alicia quit her high-powered, six-figure career working for the biggest agencies in the world to mentor female entrepreneurs. People thought she was crazy, as did she for quite some time. For a while, she bounced around consulting for a few startups, struggling to cover the bills, until she settled on one up-and-coming startup agency. Within a year, the agency blossomed, as did Alicia's spirit. She lost 20 pounds, fell in love, and ended up taking a full-time role as chief operating officer.
After 20 years of being a trader, Brian knew he had to step away and start over. The industry had essentially imploded, and with no proper college degree and no other experience, he went through what can only be defined as an identity crisis. Over the course of a few years, he dug deep to understand who he was without his job title. He took on a new career in financial advising and eventually hired a life coach to support him through the transition. He now writes blogs on LinkedIn (many of which have gone viral) on how to create a life with meaning rather than just make a living. His work is touching the lives of hundreds of people in his network and beyond.
Naomi is my sister-in-law, and I have never seen her so happy.
Alicia is my COO, and SimplyBe. is booming.
Brian is my husband, and he is thriving.
They are all my heroes. That's because they became their own first. Through a series of sleepless nights, tough decisions, outside judgments, and deep-seated fears, each of them had to step outside their own comfort zones in order to change their lives, and having done so changed the lives of so many others.
Take stock of what keeps you comfortable.
Whether it's your group of friends, your job, your romantic relationship, the place in which you live, what you eat, or even the stories you tell yourself in your mind. I guarantee there is at least one thing (if not a few) that resides inside your comfort zone that is not serving you.
It is in your willingness to get uncomfortable that you find your own heroism. It is in the decisions, choices, and experiences that scare you the most that you find your freedom, and thus your power. It is in the far-out edges beyond your comfort zone that your brand is born.
Adapted from Be. A No-B.S. Guide to Increasing Your Self-Worth and Net Worth by Simply Being Yourself, by Jessica Zweig. Copyright © 2021 by Sounds True. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Jessica Zweig is the CEO of the Simply Be Agency, an international award-winning personal branding firm with offices in Chicago and Nashville, serving clients across the globe. She is the author of #1 best-selling book, Be. A No B.S. Guide to Increasing Your Self Worth and Net Worth by Simply Being Yourself, published by Sounds True (Macmillan).
Zweig was named a Personal Branding Expert by Forbes, 2020's Most Notable Entrepreneur by Crain's, the 2018 and 2019 Stevie® Award winner for “Female Entrepreneur of the Year,” and a Top Digital Marketer to Watch by Inc.
Her work has been featured in the Washington Post, Market Watch, Business Insider, Thrive Global, and Create Cultivate, among others. She is a regular correspondent on FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS networks as a personal branding and social media expert. She also hosts the top-ranked branding podcast, “The SimplyBe. Podcast,” where she interviews today’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, influencers, thought leaders, and authors on how to build your brand and live your best, most authentic life.