It was a wonderful wedding. The food was outstanding, all the guests were in the top spirits and the DJ was already playing the third song. There was just one problem: the dance floor was still empty. Around it stood about 50 young and successful people, and none of them dared to take the first step onto the floor. I was one of them. Everyone was tapping their feet to the beat of the song, moreover they actually wanted to dance but none of them wanted to be the first one and step out of their comfort zone. In the middle of the song, it all became too much for my girlfriend – she took my hand and swung us both onto the dance floor. When the forth song started playing, more couples started to join us on the dance floor. That’s when the party really got going.
The next thing to do to move towards being our best is pursuing our goals, and in the process not giving much thought to our comfort zones.
All too often I experience such situations. People who would like to do something special or just have an idea about doing something exhilarating are oddly held back by an invisible barrier. In most cases, this boundary is the edge of one’s own comfort zone. This tends to involve aspects of energy expenditure, fear or anxiety and courage, i.e. the way of being that one has become accustomed to over many years. I intentionally write accustomed her because I believe that a comfort zone is something we learn: what one can do, how one has to behave, what is right and wrong. Other people might start talking if you make a change.
In a book published in 1953 entitled “Man’s Search for Himself”, Rollo May describes conformity as one of the largest barriers limiting the advancement of mankind. Conformity in this sense is about doing things because everyone does them, and likewise it’s about not doing things because no one does them. There’s a contradiction though, because at the same time we idolize famous actors and actresses, musicians and athletes – we would like to be in their shoes. The irony here is that most of these people have gotten to be where they are precisely because they were not so worried about the opinions of other people. Their biographies are full of stories of defeat, being labelled as outsiders and predictions of failure…all of this before they became so admired and known round the world.
Think about something that you always wanted to do but you didn’t believe in yourself enough to actually do it!
What can we learn from all this? We learn that the next thing to do a we move towards being our best is pursuing our goals, and in the process not giving much thought to our comfort zones. Conversely we can take intentional steps to move around our own comfort zones and thereby grow and move toward maximizing our potential. We should be thinking much less about the consequences of something going wrong, and thinking much more about what success will bring.
Watch this inspiring clip of top-ultra-runner Sage Canaday about running his first 100 miles ultra-trail-run. He is very open about not knowing what will happen once he is going beyond 61 miles, even admitting being scared. While you watch him talk about his feelings leading up to the event, remember that he is a 2-time Olympic Trials Qualifier, winning several prestigious races securing him a place in the top 10 list of the elite ultra-runners. To get out of our comfort zone most of us dont have to take part in an ultra race. But use his courage to get going and to regularly set challenges in your own life. Stories like this inspire people to get going and to regularly set challenges in their lives. Stories like this inspire people to get going and to regularly set challenges in their lives. It’s not necessary to go too far in terms of pushing your limits – start out by making some small changes.
Have you already stepped outside your comfort zone? What goal did you reach by overcoming some internal barrier or limitation? Maybe you’re about to set a new challenge for yourself and you still need a little nudge to get moving? Leave a comment or write us to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep at it!