Monday, July 21, 2014

When Pushed Out of Your Comfort Zone, How Do You React?

Did you ever force yourself out of your comfort zone in hope of reaching your intended goal, but terrified you might fall flat on your face? Sometimes we are pushed out of that zone by someone we love.

My mother-in-law's mission was to motivate me to start a business selling desserts to restaurants. It was an incredible idea but I had never done anything remotely close to that and didn't know where to begin.

Making desserts for my family was one thing but to turn that into a business – quite another. Reluctantly, but hopefully, I took her advice and designed a menu of succulent desserts.

Terrified, I approached the largest restaurant in town and asked to see the manager. I waited about ten minutes giving me time to make some observations. I noticed the decadent desserts in the cooler and felt intimidated but told myself that looking beautiful had nothing to do with down-home taste. I hated plastic tasting desserts, and I had confidence mine would be winners.

The manager finally appeared. “Thank you for seeing me. I bake the greatest homemade desserts that would complement your menu. I would appreciate it if you would permit me to discuss them with you.” I handed him my menu that had taken me weeks to prepare.

I was totally unprepared for his question...

Without even a glance at it he asked, “Can you make a chocolate mousse cake?”

“Absolutely, I make one of the best!” I had no idea what a chocolate mousse cake was but did not want to miss this opportunity.

“Make me one and bring it in for me to try, then we’ll talk.” I left excited and terrified with no clue where to start. Mother, my greatest fan, was waiting for me at home. She was convinced I would sell them my entire menu.

I went to the library and looked up every chocolate mousse cake recipe I could find. That weekend, I made 24 cakes – all different yet very much the same. I didn't like any one of them. It seemed hopeless until I had a brainwave. I decided to make a cake that appealed to my taste instead of what I thought the restaurant would like. The fabulous result was creamy; and smooth as velvet.

Walking into the restaurant with cake in hand, I sauntered past the patrons as they ogled the cake and asked if it was on the menu.

“Is Mark busy? I have a cake to deliver.” I was led to the kitchen and set my prizewinner down. He stuck his finger in the cake.

“This is the best chocolate mousse cake I have ever tasted – whose recipe is it?”

“It's mine.” I said proudly. “And if you give me enough orders, I will make them exclusively for you.”

“Bring me three this week and ten for the weekend.”

I could hardly believe my ears. Just like that - I was in business. As I was leaving he added, “Oh, and bring me a couple of your other creations as well. We'll try them on the menu this weekend.” He was willing to trust me with making this choice for him, yet he still had not looked at my menu.

My business took off faster than I could have ever dreamed. I averaged over 70 desserts weekly to this restaurant alone. I approached other restaurants and each one wanted my desserts. I featured different ones at each venue along with a signature creation that was theirs to advertise exclusively, like a strawberry margarita pie for the Mexican restaurant or a blitz torte for the German restaurant. I was in my element.

For New Year's Eve that year I was asked to make ONE Chocolate Mousse cake that would feed 1,000 people. There was no hesitation on my part, I knew I could do it. This only happened because I took the plunge and stepped out of my comfort zone.

Are you now or have you ever been held back by fear to step out of your comfort zone, the place that is warm, cozy and familiar?  What do you have to lose?

Photos courtesy of 1footonthedawn at and

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