13 Words That May Help Change Your Life

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NOTE: if nothing else, if you decide not to read this entire article (don’t worry I won’t cry. Too much), scroll all the way down and read the last quote. It’ll knock your socks off.

13 Words That May Help Change Your Life

Like a lot of  people I don’t like to venture too far outside my own comfort zone.

Of course this begs the question of what each person’s comfort zone actually is? Cause, you know…different people are different.

For some people they’re perfectly “comfortable” jumping out of an airplane at 25,000 feet, climbing a mountain, or hanging out in a shark cage for the fun of it.

I’ll take a pass on all of those, thank you very much.

However, not all examples of comfort zones have to revolve around life or death situations. For some, stepping outside their zone could be something as vanilla and innocuous as saying hello to a complete stranger or just learning how to say “no” to someone, or something.

“No, I don’t want the extended warranty.”

“No, I don’t want dessert.”

“No, I won’t make out with you Jennifer Lopez. Please, stop asking.”

But that’s the thing: what’s vanilla and innocuous to YOU – and no big deal – could be the equivalent of being stuck up on stage talking in front of a bunch of people in your underwear.1

In short: A nightmare scenario for most.

Regardless of the varying degrees of comfortableness from person to person, the important lesson to learn as it relates to continued personal (as well as career) growth is that everyone, at one point or another, should strive to venture outside their zone.

My Comfort Zone(s)

I’m not immune to this message either.

If you would have asked me back in 2002-2003 – when I was working as a personal trainer in Syracuse, NY – if I’d be game to pack up all my things and move to Connecticut to live with and work with some guy I had met on the internet I would have laughed.

First off I would have given you a face like THIS, and then I would have laughed.

Knowing I was feeling complacent with my circumstances and knowing that if I (really) wanted to progress my career I’d have to get the hell out of dodge…that’s exactly what I did.

I packed my belongings2 and moved to Connecticut.

Now, giving full disclosure, the guy I met on the internet was Eric Cressey (not some creeper from Craigslist), and he and I had known each other for a few years via various fitness websites and forums.

He was hired as a trainer at a gym in Ridgefield, CT, had mentioned to me in passing they were looking to hire someone else, and he helped convince me to take the leap.

It wasn’t an easy choice to make, and it was easily the first time I had taken a GIANT step outside my comfort zone. Even more than that one time I took an ex-girlfriend to go see The Notebook.

I could wax poetic on all the other factors that came into play and the ups and down involved.

In the end, though, things worked out.

I could use any number of other examples from my past, too.

It wasn’t an easy thing for me to pursue writing.

I was never an avid writer growing up, and I’m 100% confident my high-school English teacher would shit a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls if she knew I was a published author today.

However, at the time, I was five years into my career and I knew writing would be an excellent way to get more exposure and to get my name out there. Plus, I felt I had a lot to say and that I could help many more people through writing than I could by only training people one-on-one.

What made things more scary was the idea of putting myself out there. Opening myself up to criticism and internet trolls. It sucked (it still sucks), but comes with territory.

So I started a random blog that four people read.

I’m sure if someone decided to dig they could find it somewhere. Then I started submitting articles to random fitness websites…for free. And that led to getting a break with T-Nation, which obviously opened up some more doors with other reputable publications.

Writing still doesn’t come easy for me. I don’t really consider myself a writer writer. I’m a strength coach who happens to be competent with forming coherent sentences that can break down complex topics…sprinkled with pop-cultural references.

Infotainment if you will.

I have worked hard at it. When I first started dating my wife back in 2009 she’d be the first to tell you I’d bitch and whine about writing a blog post. 500 words seemed like a chore. A insurmountable feat.

1700 blog posts and countless articles later, 500 words is much less daunting.

One of my favorite authors, Steven Pressfield, wrote a book titled Turning Pro that I feel everyone should read. In one passage he describes the point in which he “turned pro,” and it had everything to do with sitting down and doing the work.

To stop bullshitting and to sit down and actually write.

I could (and still can) relate. That’s what stepping outside your comfort zone is all about.

Another anecdote would be public speaking and presenting in general. Again, if you would have told me as a teenager (or when I first started out in this industry) that I’d be traveling the world as Jason Bourne to talk about scapulohumeral rhythm and squat assessment I wouldn’t have believed it.

When I moved to Boston and we eventually opened up Cressey Sports Performance, and things started speeding up for me from a professional standpoint, I saw presenting as yet another way to grow.

At first, it was all I could do to manage my sphincter. As I can recall I was thiiiiiiiis close to backing out of my first speaking gig in Boston the morning of.

I woke up in a panic sick to my stomach. Again, giving credit where it’s due, my wife (Lisa) helped talk me through everything and I did it. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

She knew that if I backed out and didn’t go through with it, it would have caused more harm to my psyche than good. I probably never would have pursued it again. Ever.

She’s a psychologist, she’s smart like that.

Do I feel I’m a good public speaker? Hell no. Adequate, maybe. I’m no Dan John or Barack Obama. But people seem to stay engaged and not fall asleep when I do it. I’m also able to spread more of my message and help many more people and fitness professionals along the way.

I stepped outside my comfort zone and am all the better for it.

So What’s My Point?

I’ve been getting a steady stream of emails from young and upcoming fitness professionals asking me advice on their careers of late. Some are queries on how they can go about getting more clients or how they can differentiate themselves from other trainers.

Some are simply to ask how do they get better?

Some are “scared” to work in a commercial gym setting because they feel like a number, or worse, they feel it’s beneath them.3

Well, sorry. You’re not going to work with professional athletes and celebrities on day one.

Besides, it’s not all rainbows and butterfly kisses as many seem to think it is. Don’t get me wrong: it’s awesome working and hanging out with pro athletes. But it’s territory that comes with its own set of pitfalls and frustrations.

I think every new trainer should spend at least 1-2 years working in a commercial gym setting4. That’s the only way you’re going to expose yourself to as many different varieties of people and personalities as possible. It’s the only way you can guarantee you’ll get better. Assuming you actually WANT to get better.

You’ll be forced to step outside your comfort zone, repeatedly.

Others ask me about changing careers altogether. As in, “I work in sales and am a day or two shy from beating my boss senseless with a stapler. Fitness is my real passion, I love helping people. Am I crazy to think I can switch careers this late in the game?”

This is the point where stepping outside one’s comfort zone is going to manifest itself. A perfect opportunity. A daunting as fuck one, but an opportunity nonetheless.

Now, I’m not suggesting someone throw caution to the wind, quit their job tomorrow, go on a hookers and cocaine binge this weekend, and apply for a job at their local commercial gym on Monday.

That may be stretching the comfort zone too far….;o)

But who’s to say they couldn’t seek out a mentorship or “observational internship” on the side to see if this is something they really want to do? To ooch or wet their palette so-to-speak.

Or maybe this is a scenario where they say “screw it” and take a chance.

As my good friend (and strength coach), Todd Bumgardner, recently stated to me:

“Scare the shit out of yourself. It’s the only way to do it.”

Those are 13 words that really resonated with me, and wish I would have heard ten years ago.

What about you?

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. And not your sexy underwear either. We’re talking tighty-whities.

  2. Except for my baseball cards. They stayed at home. And they better still be there too, Mom!

  3. Cause they’re an asshole.

  4. I did it for five years, and I didn’t write my first article or train my first professional athlete until year six. Just sayin

  • Trish

    Lots of wisdom in here, especially this line “Go on a hookers and cocaine binge this weekend, then apply for a job at their local commercial gym on Monday’ LOL Hashtag Lifegoals. But I 1000% agree with you that the only way to stretch yourself is to do that thing that scares the hell out of you. Usually the worst case scenario never ends up happening at all and people learn that everything is manageable.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks Trish. Sorry we couldn’t meet up while you were here in Boston.

      Maybe out in LA in November….;o)

  • This is why everyone’s grandma says “holy shit” stuff. They’ve run out of things that scare them.. but you have to exercise those muscles. People who do things, are less and less afraid. People who don’t do shit, let their fears pile up.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Always love your “to the point” wisdom John.

    • Very true fear disables you specially when you stack different fears the key is beat one fear at a time and face it head on eventually you will build momentum and create a new life for yourself great article

  • Rachel

    This. All day. Another good quote: If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Very true Rachel. Very true.

  • I’m curious about your writing, Tony. Do you have a daily goal where you just bang out a certain number of words and then edit later on? I ask because I admire the consistency of your posts. I have a hard time with that.
    I have to check out the Pressfield book you mention. I read War of Art, which is a great book. All about the point of resistance. Anyway, thanks for another great article.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I don’t have a daily goal of word count. I’m not a (writer) writer who’s livelihood depends on pushing out content or novels year round. Authors like Stephen King operate that way. It’s amazing.

      I basically edit as I go. I can’t sit in from of my computer and write an entire post and THEN go back and edit. It’s impossible for me to work that way. I believe guys like John Romaniello and Adam Bornstein operate that way. They’ll write and write and write and then go back and edit. I literally go sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph and edit as I go.

      And I STILL make a boat load of grammatical errors…haha.

      I have a few hours each morning before I head out tot he facility to get my writing in, and I just hold myself accountable to those hours. I probably average four posts a week and 1-2 articles.

      Some people only have time to write one post a week, and that’s fine. It’s a matter of finding what’s suites your schedule and sticking with it.

      Definitely recommend you check out Pressfield’s work (especially War of Art and Turning Pro).

      • Thanks, Tony. That’s really helpful. Much of what I read on the subject suggests that the “best practice” is to write then edit. Its good to see productivity with a different approach.

        • TonyGentilcore

          Nope, I edit as I write. I’m weird like that.

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  • Scare the shit out of yourself means so many different things to people.
    When I saw the picture of the shark, that is what I want to do for my 50th birthday and people think I am crazy,but I think of it as an awesome experience.
    But, when I made a speech at my daughters wedding, it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life as well as one of the most rewarding moments, because I conquered one of my greatest fears- speaking to an audience.
    It’s not very often we face our fears and conquer them, but the times that we do conquer are so very rewarding.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I bet that was a daunting moment for sure Peter (speaking at your daughter’s wedding).

      My sentiments mirror yours: what’s “shit my pants scary” to one person – swimming with sharks – is no big deal to someone else.

      The key, however, is to meet your fears head on sometimes. That’s the only way to grow.

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  • Mark Neumayer

    I’ve been trying to do this for the past year. I turned 50 and finished a Warrior Dash. (Last time I ran a 5k was 30 years ago!) It should be a no-brainer for folks involved in fitness. You push yourself when you exercise, bringing on the physical discomfort. Why not bring that determination into the other parts of your life?

    • TonyGentilcore

      Very true Mark. And, congrats on your Warrior Dash! No small potatoes to say the least.

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  • Shane Mclean

    Almost 14 years ago I move across he pond from Australia to the USA to get married. She was the only person I knew. I left all I knew behind. Turned out pretty good for me. Great post Tony, opening yourself up a little, too be judged is awesome. I enjoyed it.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Now THAT takes some balls. Holy cow Shane.

      • Shane Mclean

        True but it’s the same thing you faced. Just a different situation.

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  • Guzzy

    Thanks Tony your timing is again perfect as i’ve been wanting to join a tennis league and am intimidated by the old ladies that will trash talk me behind my back at club (haha just kidding I’m worried I’ll suck). And both my trainers are definitely interested in your idea for Vancouver and will be contacting you!!!!!

    • TonyGentilcore

      1. Join the tennis league.

      2. Would LOVE to come to Vancouver. Please contact me via my email whenever you have some information.

      • Guzzy

        I will let them know to email you. I know they said they were interested. Two super fun, passionate about fitness guys in their late 20’s, early 30’s that think like you.

  • Stephen Boone

    Awesome post today Tony! This definitely speaks to my life right now as I am transitioning from a life of sales into personal training. I appreciate you mentioning putting in some time at a globo-gym to get experience because that is the path that has unfolded for me and it is kinda scary for sure.
    P.S. I look forward to meeting you in person at the Chicago Shoulder and Hip Workshop!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Oh cool! Looking forward to meeting you in Chicago as well Stephen.

      We can chat more about this in person when I see you.

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  • Marie J Allen

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    way to lose my weight by 3week diet from http://3weekdietguides.com.
    Really it is most effective weight loss method ever I used. I lose 30
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  • Cherietta L. Swar

    I love this article. I’m a school teacher and I’ve been NASM certified for 8 months. I never really thought I was ready to take on clients, but I accidentally got a job interview at a commercial gym. I was scared to death and had a few full-on panic attacks until my interview was over. I now have 2 clients and I’m looking forward to the New Year’s Resolution gym crowd to get me many more. I’m no where close to quitting my teaching career, but I can hardly believe I’m actually training clients in a gym now! It was terrifying but having the support of my b/f helped me step outside of my comfort zone to pursue my dream of becoming a trainer.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Awesome stuff Cherietta! I am so pumped for you to explore your new career. Good on you for having the courage to step outside your comfort zone and allow yourself the opportunity to see if it’s a good fit for you. Best of luck!

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