Tim Carlisle On How to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone To Grow Both Personally and Professionally
An Interview with Maria Angelova
Published inAuth ority Magazine
·9 min read
·Jan 27, 2024
Do the work no matter what — Things are not always easy, nor are they fun. However, when you continue to make it happen, it often provides you with the opportunity you seek. Remember, if things were easy, everyone would be doing it!
It feels most comfortable to stick with what we are familiar with. But anyone who has achieved great success will tell you that true growth comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. What are some ways that influential people have pushed themselves out of their comfort zone to grow both personally and professionally? As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Timothy Carlisle, CISSP, PMP, DTM, PDD who has a very diverse leadership background.
Tim spent 20 years serving in the Submarine Service, he served on four different submarines, rising to the level of Chief Petty Officer. He co-wrote many of the instructions for protecting data and computers in sensitive installations, and at one point saved the Navy $23 million in today’s dollars by writing a manual describing the detailed operation of a highly classified system.
Tim has worked as a project director and cybersecurity expert in the public sector and as a consultant. His consulting engagements included eBay, Starbucks, Sutter Health, and other large organizations. He is certified as a CISSP and PMP, both gold-standard certifications in Cybersecurity and Project Management.
He has earned 4 degrees: two Bachelor’s — in Technology, and Operations Management from Excelsior College; Master’s Certificate in IT Project Management George from Washington University, and Masters in Technology Management (Information Security with Distinction) from Capella University.
In his volunteer work, Tim currently serves as the Chief Technology Officer and District Commander for U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc., Toastmasters Past District 4 Director (San Francisco and Palo Alto, CA). He is an Event Leader in Landmark Worldwide.
He has received many awards, including a Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Joe Negri Award (highest award for leadership), and two Robert Link National Commander’s Award from the U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc., the Excelsior College C. Wayne Williams Award for Public Service and Community Involvement, a California Legislature Proclamation for feeding homeless and needy children, and California’s first National PTA award for the academic program he led at Mare Island Elementary School. He has also earned two Distinguished Toastmasters designations.
The opinions given here are his own.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
My childhood was a mixed bag. My parents adopted me and my brother and sister (all from different families) and cobbled us into a family. At 5, my mother decided I should become a public speaker. Every day I practiced memorizing a two-page single-spaced paper on George Washington Carver, twice every weekend day. For months, I was word-perfect. Finally, the big day arrived. With a crowd of 250, I started strong, and about 3 minutes in, I looked up at the audience and froze. My mother prompted me, and I continued and finished to applause (a rarity at that church). However, I had made a mistake — I was expected to be perfect — and was never told it was okay to make a mistake. For many years, I thought I could never be a public speaker until I joined Toastmasters in 2015. I found that with practice and encouragement, I could do great things.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My first Submarine Senior Chief Petty Officer, Mickey Forgar — when I showed up late and hung over for work (at 20). “If you are going to soar with the eagles, you have to get up and scratch with the chickens.” The impact was I was never late again after that. What it meant to me is first if I want to do the fun things like stay out later, I need to do the mundane things, come to work on time. It also meant to never take yourself too seriously, which I have followed since that day.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Reinventing Yourself. Steve Chandler. It describes how success and happiness in life are so much more than your job title, position or income. By using those tools, plus creating a series of five-year plans, I have been able to achieve far more than I ever dreamed was possible.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s start with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What does “getting outside of your comfort zone” mean?
I define getting out of one’s comfort zone as the courage to do something new that makes you uncomfortable and the confidence to make it happen.
Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?
Getting outside the comfort zone is expanding possibility, personal growth, taking a leap of faith, and making something happen that wouldn’t have happened anyway.
Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone? Can you explain what you mean?
People grow over time, naturally– but to truly live life freely, -to live a life worth living, it is critical to stretch your abilities, beyond your comfort, to become who you are destined to be.
Can you share some anecdotes from your personal experience? Can you share a story about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone and how it helped you grow? How does it feel to take those first difficult steps?
After six months in Toastmasters, I agreed to become our 40-member club Vice-President of Education, who assists the members and club to achieve their collective and individual goals. The person I was relieving was very busy and met with me the day I assumed the role. After 30 minutes, she told me she was going to Mongolia for six weeks — no internet and no email for six weeks. I was pretty upset — but realized if it is to be, it’s up to me. I learned I needed to attend at least one training every six months — so I signed up for five sessions in two months. I thought I would learn five times as much from five different people. This had never occurred to others — and after District Leaders saw me several times, I became one about a year later.
Here is the central question of our discussion. What are your “five ways to push past your comfort zone, to grow both personally and professionally”?
1. Be curious. Ask lots of questions, and work to understand other people’s viewpoints that are different from yours — really get in their world and listen to understand, not judge.
2. When the goal is greater than the fear. I never imagined being District Director and leading 3500 members and 120 chapters — I started by leading 40 members and expanded my worldview and leadership skills from there.
3. Be open to what’s available. Out of gratitude, I became the District Logistics Manager, which gave me access to the leaders’ thinking and understanding, which served me well as I grew into leadership in the organization.
4. Listening to feedback. Listening to rah-rah feedback does not provide as much growth as critical feedback. 360-degree evaluations in Toastmasters were very humbling — and where I did the worst — I asked the most questions. This helped with rapid improvement.
5. Set big, hairy, audacious goals. Setting goals you think you can’t reach makes you grow and change in tremendous ways. I have wholly lived outside my comfort zone for 8 years because of setting those types of goals. I am proud of who I am today, I would have never accomplished all that I have if it weren’t for setting big goals and living outside my comfort zone.
From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?
1. Being unwilling to take small steps towards your goals.
2. Fear completely stops you.
3. Unwillingness to pivot or adapt.
4. Losing the war within yourself.
There is a well-known quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Do something that scares you every day”. What exactly does this mean to you? Is there inherent value in doing something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, even if it does not relate to personal or professional growth? For example, if one is uncomfortable about walking alone at night should they purposely push themselves to do it often for the sake of going beyond their comfort zone? Can you please explain what you mean?
Fear never really goes away — but by doing something everyday it diminishes fear’s importance. So feel the fear and do it anyway. Without fear in your way, it allows you to take larger steps towards major goals.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I am committed to creating a world that works for everyone and empowers people to be their best selves, no matter their circumstances. I also am for improving communication and leadership in the world.
Perhaps a leadership program for people who have dealt with trauma, I have seen many people who have past traumas are not the leaders they could be, and some of the smartest and most creative people I know shy away from leadership because of their lack of confidence that comes from past traumas.
Having a program to help those people get past their trauma and discover their power and leadership, I believe, would benefit not only the person but all the people they would impact for the rest of their lives. They would also become the leaders of the nation, which would have a massive impact on how our country operates and the future of our world.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Tim Grover — Tim was Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant’s trainer and has authored several books which I learned from greatly.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at email@example.com. To schedule a free consultation, click here.