I am sure we have all heard of the term “Comfort Zone” – however, I thought it would be helpful to start this article out by defining it. The following definition was found on wiki:
“One’s comfort zone refers to the set of environments and behaviors with which one is comfortable, without creating a sense of risk. A person’s personality can be described by his or her comfort zones. Highly successful persons may routinely step outside their comfort zones, to accomplish what they wish. A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries. Such boundaries create an unfounded sense of security. Like inertia, a person who has established a comfort zone in a particular axis of his or her life, will tend to stay within that zone without stepping outside of it. To step outside a person’s comfort zone, they must experiment with new and different behaviors, and then experience the new and different responses that then occur within their environment.”
About six months ago I had an awakening moment. This moment came while listening to Bob Proctor’s MP3s on my morning walks. The audio recordings were teaching about purpose and passion. One day on my morning walk it actually dawned on me what my passion was. It is odd, now, in hindsight, I can’t believe it took so long for me to realize what it was. It just appeared in my thoughts during this walk. For years (about 20) I have absorbed books of teachings, books of motivation, books on leadership, audio CDs of the same content and I have eaten them up like they were ice cream sundaes. And on that morning walk, what dawned on me was that I absolutely love personal development and I love applying it into my life and I love applying it while I help others.
My passion is personal development. I have been successful in improving my life through learning about time management (although you don’t REALLY manage time, time just is) and successful in helping to develop other individuals and teams. So personal development was IT. I decided at that moment that this is what I would do. With this new driving force I started looking at, and thinking about, coaching. I got books and took lots of notes and after some time of working on this my life got a bit busy and I decided to put this research on hold. At that time, I was still focusing on climbing that corporate ladder. Then three months later a new opportunity came into my life and changed my life.
After making the decision to own my own business I started hearing about this need to hop out of my comfort zone. The leaders were discussing how it was imperative that we do things that would take us out of our comfort zone. I tried doing small things; I jumped out on my company calls introducing myself talking about the changes in my life. I went out on amusement park rides that were for me scary and something I didn’t really feel comfortable doing. At some point in dawned on me that I was thinking about changing my career – that alone is clearly moving out of the comfort zone and stepping into unknown land.
After this realization I stopped looking so hard and just started going with the flow and working on getting my new business up and running. Then – ugly negativity stepped in. My mind and thoughts and feelings began being filled with negative thoughts. One thing about me is that although I am able to quickly realize I am feeling negativity I am often unable to pinpoint where it stems from. I wrote about the feelings in my journal. At one point I realized that I am feeling a bit scared, a bit scattered and have some thoughts about how I see others being better than me. I was having negative thoughts and feelings toward my team.
Anyhow, all of this discomfort – and some frustration… pointed to something and provided feedback that I am actually on the right path…. I am WAY OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE! And this is a good thing. In order to grow, one must step out of their comfort zone and so knowing that I have been successful in that move, makes me feel great. It helps me know that I am doing the right thing. I know I will be a leader in this company. I know that the negative talk was my old self trying to get me to move back into my comfort zone by giving me justification why I wasn’t seeing success.
After getting to the point where I was happy for the frustration I also realized how much time and energy I was wasting in my head going through an “oh poor me” routine. My thoughts then turned to what can I do that will help; if I spent all the time with this question instead of wondering if I am being left out, feeling left out, if I spent that energy on DOING things to move my business forward I would be successful, so I was able to get myself back on track.
When I look back at the successes in my life they always occurred after a period of moving into a realm, a job, an area that made me feel uncomfortable. This is by definition, moving out of one’s comfort zone. The trick is to not allow the negative self-talk or the negative feelings to push us into rationalizing our quitting the path we have chosen. We need to be persistent and consistent and keep working and pushing through the discomfort and feelings. Just keep moving!