I was recently chatting with a friend about the joys and in their opinion, mostly woes of canvassing. If you have not heard of canvassing before, it is basically going door to door in a neighbourhood selling, in this case, books. It is a very challenging and exciting way of working and if the idea of knocking on stranger’s doors while having 30 seconds to explain why you have knocked on their door and quickly think of how you would sell your books to that particular individual sounds awesome to you, then my friend, you are a canvasser! If the idea of knocking on a complete stranger’s door while having to juggle all the aforementioned things sounds completely terrifying as well as possibly death incurring then you my friend, are not alone. Although not exactly public speaking, the fear that is often associated with the act of door knocking can be that akin to public speaking which is a common phobia ahead of death, spiders or heights. As my friend and I spoke about this, they mentioned, “Why would anyone subject themselves to such an activity that places you so far out of your comfort zone?”
This question got me thinking a little bit more on why we do venture out of our comfort zones. Why is it that we knowingly place ourselves in difficult, scary or overwhelming situations knowing the discomfort that will come from them? We are rational beings after all with the ability to exercise our free will. Is it because those who do venture out actually find something that is greater than all the perils, dangers and fears that they could possible experience? The answer, as you would probably have assented to is, yes. After all, we love hearing of daring adventurers, death defying feats and the prince overcoming the dragon to rescue the princess in the tower. The fact is that on the other side of our comfort zones, we find the answers to our questions and our purpose in life. We find new energy, joy and others who are also on a quest for personal growth and expansion. The leap outside our comfort zones and the daring attitude is what has brought innovation and the greatest of discoveries because people have seen the incredible value that comes from laying aside oneself and venturing out into the unknown.
My first experience canvassing went something like this. We learnt about canvassing one morning and then were sent out with our books and a somewhat memorised script for what we were going to say at the doors. For a person who had only recently begun getting used to public speaking, in small audiences mind, this was definitely taking it up a notch. Make that ten! I mean, the possibilities for utter and absolute embarrassment, rejection and failure were enormous! The more I thought about all the possible things that could go wrong at someone’s door the more afraid I became. How badly could I really mess up or worse, what if they rejected me? What if they slammed the door in my face while yelling at me? I think it’s funny now how scared I was back then about doing canvassing but believe me, it was not funny then. Considering the canvassing activity was a required component of my studies and that I had knowingly signed up for this experience, I knew I had to keep going back. So how could I deal with being afraid every day? The only answer for me was to pray and to start believing that I was capable of doing canvassing. I had to start believing that it was not about me and how I felt, but about truly caring for the people who would buy our books and for who we would be praying for and with. I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable in this way, so that I could actually learn about canvassing and improve. A lot of prayer went into canvassing that first month. Every day I would decide to go canvassing but the fear was still there. Every day I had to pray for courage and strength to be able to see past my fear and focus on the task at hand.
I can honestly say that it was one of the best experiences of my life and improved my confidence, ability to speak and taught me a valuable lesson in trusting in God. The experiences that I had every day, the people I was able to meet, all worked together to bless me and my canvassing partner in some way.
Three years down the track, I continue to canvass when I get the opportunity and nowadays, I assist with coaching youth on how to do it. I am able to stand in front of them and say, “Yes, you might be thinking this is not for you, but if you will give it a real go, step out of your comfort zone, face your fears, I know, it will be worth it. I know, that this will be valuable to you.” Like I said in the beginning, not everyone is afraid of canvassing. It comes easily to some and to others, it is a way of quickly learning lessons that will be priceless in life. Being able to place ourselves in situations that we know are healthy but will require stretching is one of the most useful abilities that we should cultivate. Because the truth is, that we were created for more than what we currently think or feel. We are capable of the most amazing things if we will believe that we have the best help by our side and jump in the deep end. We both know, it’s worth it.
Phillipians 3:14 “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” ―Abraham Maslow
“Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not. When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to personal growth.” ―John C. Maxwell