The Discomfort Zone
If I told you I had a steal beam 4” wide and 30 feet long laid down on the floor of a gym and I wanted to bet you $50 that you couldn’t walk the length of it without falling off, would you take me on?
I’m guessing you’d be up for that unless you have some unnatural aversion to gyms, steam beams or think gambling is the tool of the Devil.
What if I lifted it up to 25 feet, would you bet me now?
Possibly not for $50 although you may if you’re the confidant daredevil type that likes to have your adrenaline pumping and your heart racing like an Air Traffic Controller that ‘s just knocked his coffee all over his monitor.
I bet you’d be up for the challenge for $50,000, though. Surely that would be worth the risk?
So what’s the problem, you can either do it or you can’t, right?
The beam is still 4” wide, still 30 feet long and still as stiff as John McCain surrounded by a group of young people.
Something’s changed though, hasn’t it? All of a sudden doubt has crept into your mind with the stealth-like abilities of a puppy slipping into the closet on a midnight mission to destroy every left shoe in the household.
The introduction of the risk element has suddenly changed everything.
If you accept the challenge instead of snickering and thinking “Candy from a baby my man, candy from a baby”” you’re more likely to be thinking, “I feel sick. I think I put the wrong legs on this morning because these obviously don’t belong to me ”
Yet in reality both activities are exactly the same.
At ground level you’d probably glide across with the ease of Cyril the Supple Squirrel, showing off to his less agile buddies, but at 25 feet you’d probably look like a 3-legged blindfolded donkey with hiccups.
Your heart would beat faster, your vision narrow, your muscles tense, your mouth go dry and you’d probably need a spare set of underwear setting aside for when you got down.
You’d probably get really frustrated with yourself at this point because you’d be trying to reason with your unconscious mind that it’s really no big deal.
Your unconscious mind though would have other things on it’s plate and would be paying you less attention than a ravenous 5 year old with ADHD being taught algebra.
The cool thing is though, that if you did it successfully and were then tempted to have another go, the next time would be a tad easier.
After 3 or 4 successful walks you’d probably by showing off and poking fun at the wusses that are too scardey cat. What do you think happened between the first attempt and the fourth? That’s right, you successfully expanded your comfort zone.
You pushed the boundaries and trained yourself to deal with a given situation.
It wouldn’t have mattered whether it was giving a speech, asking for a date or poking a napping Grizzly Bear in the eye with a metal spike, you did it. Good for you.
Note: Please do not poke or even prod Grizzly Bears with sticks, umbrellas, silverware or any other object not specifically designed to be used that way. It’s not big and it’s not clever.
The reason why so many people don’t start their own business’s, quit a job they hate or tell their boss enough is enough and they’re off home to eat dinner with the kids, is because it forces them out of their comfort zone and they’re fearful of the unknown.
Nevertheless, the more we step into the discomfort zone the more comfortable it feels and the more comfortable it feels the more we can continue to expand it.
We start to realize that we’re much more capable than we ever dreamed possible.
Our comfort zone is what holds us back from achieving our potential and the only way to expand it is to get out of it on a regular basis.
All sorts of scary emotions will hit you, but the good news is that’s all they are, emotions. There are no packs of wolves, no monsters and no life coaches with big sticks.
Make an agreement with yourself to do one thing that is way out of your comfort zone this week.
Then do it!