Here I was, cresting the wave of this high I’ve been on lately. Smooth sailing all the way, with nothing but the open seas before me. When all of the sudden I run smack-dab into the wall that is my Comfort Zone. Actually, I’m not much of a boating person; this is only a metaphor. The wall? That’s a metaphor, too. My Comfort Zone, however, and me needing to be on the outside? That’s all too real.
What actually constitutes a “Comfort Zone”? According to Alasdair A. K. White in his research paper “From Comfort Zone to Performance Management”:
The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.
But, why-o-why would one want to venture out? Maybe it has something to do with that whole “using a limited set of behaviours” thing. To limit is to keep ourselves back from our fullest potential. Staying within the cozy bounds of our Comfort Zone keeps us from being, doing, having all that we can out of life.
Well, that’s no fun.
Wouldn’t you rather become the best you could no matter what path you’ve chosen for yourself? If it’s all up to you—and it is (don’t get me started)—why would you hold yourself back from a most excellent life experience? I mean, if we are all spiritual beings having human experiences—and we are (so just stop right there)—why would you choose to have a less than spectacular life?
It’s that Comfort Zone thing isn’t it. It’s…well…comfy. And, being outside of it is most certainly not. But, that’s where the juice gets made. The best parts of who we are—our character, our integrity—gets honed and tested outside that non-challenging, moral flab-creating plateau known as the Comfort Zone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to dwell there a little while after you’ve reached a plateau. This allows you the opportunity to get used to all the new abilities you’ve developed trudging uphill on that path to a better you.
In case you hadn’t realized it, you had to travel outside your Comfort Zone to get where you are today. Somewhere out there, on the road to becoming who you are right now, you learned to walk, ride a bike, drive a car. You learned to speak and read, do simple mathematics, recite history. You discovered computers and witty repartee and…sex! If you know how to play an instrument, pay bills, or send email, then you have at one time or another been outside your Comfort Zone.
Outside my Comfort Zone is where I meet and befriend the person I am becoming.
If the only thing holding you back is the dread at being squeamish, uncomfortable, yucky for a short period of time, isn’t it worth it to learn to love the discomfort that comes along with the growth process? If you could be, do, have anything you wanted, and all it took was exposing yourself to something that was going to put you out for a little while…wouldn’t it be worth it? I mean, really. (Rhetorical question – don’t bother answering.) Yes, it would!
It’s totally worth it!
Anyone who has ever enjoyed sports, watched a movie, or even played a video game knows that the best wins are the ones that come after a struggle. If we’re going to spend the time to watch the underdog come out on top, then he had better face insurmountable odds—otherwise, who cares?!
The same is true in real life.
You are the underdog in your own life. A Spiritual Being having a Human experience. Relearning all those spiritual truths that once danced at your fingertips. But, now you have to do it the hard way—via trial & error, failure & success.
We learn through adversity—each step a new human experience.
Without these trials & tribulations that constantly plague you no matter what level of life you have attained, there would be no reason to change. Everything would be hunky-dory, and you would be stuck. Stuck where you are with nothing to motivate you on to the Bigger & Better. Living within the safe bounds your Comfort Zone, there would be no mountains to climb, no valleys to trudge through. No need to move off that comfy couch—watching shows about other people, living vicariously through their grand adventures. You’d sit there day after day, snoozing away in that boob-tube dream state you call your life.
Life is about challenges. Even the way we play has to have its challenges. Baseball, football, kickball. Hopscotch, hide-and-go-seek, freeze tag. The stage, the tube, the screen—theater is conflict. Without it, the story will fall flat…just like your life if you let it. Life is about change and challenges. Even our muscles do not grow, or continue to stay toned, unless we tear them down first. The amount of growth we experience—physically, mentally, spiritually—is in direct proportion to the size of the challenges we face. The only place you are going to find challenges worthy enough to bring you to the next level is outside your Comfort Zone. Every step towards success leads you further outside your Comfort Zone. If success is what you want out of life—on any level—then, that is where you will have to go.
There you have it. Everything you need to achieve all your goals & dreams is within reach. It’s up to you to push beyond your current limits to the great unknown. Like the explorers of old, you will experience the fear and joy that goes along with blazing new trails. But, that’s what our lives are made up of aren’t they—our experiences. So, sail on towards that distant horizon, and challenge yourself to play at a much higher level than ever before. The choice is yours as to what kind of experiences you’re going to have. You might as well have a few great ones while you’re here.
Get it? Good.
I’ll see you out on the playground.