Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
How many times have you heard someone say "Get out of your comfort zone"? Too many times when you hear this statement, it is meant to force you into making a decision or to agree with someone else's opinion.
Well, let's study what "the comfort zone" is a little bit so we can really understand it because it is valuable to operate out of your comfort zone in order to grow as a leader.
I came across this diagram a few weeks ago and want to share it with you. Let's break it down.
In the light gray zone is your comfort zone. This is where you feel safe and in control. I don't know about you, but there are times when I want to camp in my comfort zone, hang out for a while, and not leave! We have so many things coming at us at such a rapid pace that retreating to your comfort zone is a natural reaction! Let's not be ashamed when we find that we have a nice camp set up there.
However, when you spend too much time in the comfort zone you start retracting. Your skills diminish. Your relationships diminish. Your confidence diminishes. Recognize that your camp in the comfort zone is a temporary stop on your way to growth and achievement.
The darker gray zone is the fear zone. When you stare out from your comfort zone you see a place where people will judge you, you don't have the skills to accomplish your goals, and excuses roll off your tongue.
One simple step to make the foray into the fear zone...take action! Create the conditions in which action becomes something that is less scary. Small steps that stand a good chance of success are a good way to start.
The lighter yellow zone is the most fun zone, and it's called the learning zone. Once you have created action in the fear zone, and you still are around to talk about it, you discover the sun came up the next day, your family still loves you, and the world did not end! In the learning zone, you cultivate a positive, problem-solving mindset. The motto of this zone is, "The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know."
Make a list of the challenges you are facing. Once you have the list ask yourself what it is you need to learn to be able to solve these challenges with your team. Figuring out what you need to learn to solve problems is empowering.
The last zone is where all of the forward movement happens. You look back at the comfort zone and think, "Why did I hang out there so long?" Your hard work of creating action, learning new skills, and dealing with problems pays off for you and your organization.
A word of caution:
Be careful not to become complacent in the growth zone. If you are not careful, the growth zone can turn into the comfort zone! Force yourself to keep learning and scanning the environment to look for new (or old) challenges. You will know if the growth zone is turning into the comfort zone when you start making excuses not to act.