Wisdom//

6 Celebrities Who Inspire Us to Step Out of Our Comfort Zone

Trying new things can improve your career and your overall well-being.

Vivien Killilea / Stringer / Getty Images / Daniel Zuchnik / Contributor / Getty Images / Dave Pedley / Contributor / Getty Images
Vivien Killilea / Stringer / Getty Images / Daniel Zuchnik / Contributor / Getty Images / Dave Pedley / Contributor / Getty Images

Actress Rachel Brosnahan recently opened up about how her pivotal role in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel taught her about the importance of breaking personal barriers.

“What I had to do to play this part is something I never thought I could do — namely comedy,” she said to Shape. “I’d been told I wasn’t funny, and that just felt true. This job has been immensely intimidating, especially in that department. But I have learned… that it’s so important not to tell yourself you can’t do things.”

Brosnahan isn’t the only one who’s reaped the benefits of trying something new — here’s what five other celebrities can teach us about challenging ourselves to get out of our comfort zone in healthy ways.

Richard Branson doesn’t enjoy public speaking, but has mastered it anyway

The Virgin Group Founder shared what he dislikes about public speaking in 2017, writing, “Most people who’ve seen me speak in public will realise that I don’t like giving pre-written speeches… firstly I still get a little nervous when speaking in public and rehearsed speeches add to the pressure.”

Even powerful business leaders may deal with the stress of sharing your ideas in front of an audience.

But Branson also told Business Insider about the critical advice he once received about public speaking, which helped urge him outside of his comfort zone: “Somebody once said to me, ‘if you’re doing public speaking, just think that you’re having a chat with somebody in your living room. Don’t think about thousands of people out there… just have a chit-chat with somebody.’ And I found that to be really successful.”

Oprah didn’t let fear jeopardize her career

Winfrey told CNN about the reservations she had before taking on the lead role in the HBO film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. “I didn’t want to take on this role… I was intimidated by it. I was nervous. I just didn’t know if I could do it,” she said.  

But Winfrey says she was inspired to finally commit to the character when she heard Lacks’ daughter Deborah — who she plays in the film — say that she wanted Oprah to do it.

Indeed, research has found that making solid commitments to a project can help you push past your fear. Your brain can only focus well on one thing at a time, and once you’ve made your commitment, you’ll be more focused on the project itself, not your fear over whether or not taking it on was the right choice.

Melinda Gates encourages new graduates to take risks

She shared her advice for college graduates in a CNBC interview, saying, “This is a time in your life when a whole host of opportunities will suddenly open up… and if you stay in your comfort zone, you’ll miss out on so many things worth experiencing.”

But Gates also made it clear that authenticity, along with being open to exploration, is also key to success. “While you’re challenging yourself to embrace the discomfort of new environments and situations, also remember to treasure the things that make you uniquely you,” she said.

Shania Twain enjoys adding different skills to her career arsenal

The country singer spoke to Billboard about taking on new jobs and new stages in her career, like being a co-panelist and executive producer on Real Country. “Taking chances and being out of the comfort zone is really something that I’m enjoying. It’s the way I live my life,” she said. “I just feel an inner strength and feel stronger when I’m taking on new challenges — I feel motivated by challenge, it’s exciting, it’s fun.”

Shonda Rhimes committed to a “year of yes”

Rhimes spoke to NPR in 2015 about the inspiration behind her memoir Year of Yes. “My oldest sister said to me, ‘You never say yes to anything.’ And by that she meant I never accept any invitations… I never go anywhere. I never do anything. All I did was go to work and come home. And she was right. My life had gotten really small,” Rhimes said. “Once I sort of realized that she was right, I was going to say yes to all the things that scared me, that made me nervous, that freaked me out, that made me think I’m going to look foolish doing it. Anything that took me out of my comfort zone I was going to do it, if asked to do it.”

Rhimes reports that forming this habit helped her spend more time playing with her kids, and to have the “difficult conversations” she needed.

No matter your industry, challenging yourself can spark personal growth.

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