About the author: Leanne Carling is the co-founder and M&A Director of international family investment firm, The Carling Group, and has been involved in hundreds of transactions with a combined value way in excess of £1billion.

Fear is a powerful emotion that can either hold us back or propel us forward. It can stop us from taking risks and trying new things, or it can motivate us to push past our comfort zones and achieve our goals. For me, the key is to get comfortable being uncomfortable and to do something that scares me.

You’ll read a lot of comments from people advising you to do something small, stick your toe out of your comfort zone, try a new class at the gym, chat to a stranger…but I don’t think that’s enough. The biggest personal growth happens when you are so far out of your comfort zone, as it isn’t easy to quick step back in it when it gets tough.

I apply this theory of getting comfortable being uncomfortable to all aspects of my life. Starting out in business, I got frustrated trying to make progress with some companies, so I just started calling the CEO or Directors. Even now, having led and grown multiple businesses, I often find myself as the least experienced person in a room, because we buy businesses in different sectors, and international locations, I don’t have the time to become an ‘expert’ in every area.

Away from work, I also love pushing beyond my comfort zone. Just recently, with no training or preparation my husband and I decided to climb to Base Camp Mount Everest, a gruelling trek to almost 5,500m. Although it was tough, and at times I really wasn’t having much fun, completing the challenge was never in doubt. By consistently pushing myself, it’s like muscle memory, it becomes easier to do it.

My husband and I have a rule, we hold each other to account, no excuses. If we say we are going to do something, we make sure we do it, and we call it out if the other hasn’t stuck to it. Stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t always that difficult, but staying out of it can be, and that’s why having someone to hold you accountable is necessary.

To be held accountable, I believe in the power of sharing your goals, in business and in other parts of life. I share my big ideas, my goals, and ambitions, because that way I can be held accountable to them. If they are just in my head, it’s too easy to give up.

Growth is painful. It has been for me, but that’s what makes it worth it. It’s also important to remember that your comfort zone adapts with you, and where I’ve been uncomfortable in the past, eventually becomes comfortable so pushing out of this is an on-going process.

For me, my biggest growth happens when I’m furthest away from where I’m comfortable, it’s still painful sometimes, and from time-to-time I need to be held accountable, but I’m comfortable being uncomfortable, cos I know that’s where the magic happens.