A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there
I grew my comfort zone
years ago my contract was not renewed due to lack of funding. I was terrified
for the future, as I was three months pregnant and the only one with an income
in our couple. As I was mourning the job lost, I remember someone telling me, “What if you
get a new job that is even better? What if it gets better?”
That sounded crazy at the time, but it was true. It did get better. Looking
back on my life and career so far, I realize I have often pushed myself to
change and to expand my skill set. I have literally worked in five countries
for long periods of time, I have learned many new languages and consider myself
fluent in six, and I have learned new skills by working in sectors I was not
necessarily familiar with. Sometimes events force you out of your comfort zone
and sometimes you take our own steps to push back the boundaries of your
comfort zone. So what have I learned about comfort zones and change? Below are
some thoughts to fuel your actions.
comfort zone is comfortable – why change?
is nothing wrong with a little comfort in life. A comfort zone – there is a
reason we call it that. It indicates things, people, patterns that are
familiar. It is a physical or social environment and set of habits that make
you feel safe and give you confidence. This is all great stuff. So why do you
find this quote “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever
grows there” when you Google “comfort zone”? If your
comfort zone stays unchanged, complacency, routine, even rut may set in.
Creativity, innovation, and transformation do not happen in comfort zones. You
need to try new things, fail, learn and try again and go further to create,
innovate, and transform the world around you. If you want to achieve different
results, you need to try new things.
I step out of my comfort zone or grow it?
is a question I have been debating in my head. I think stepping out of your
comfort zone and growing it are closely intertwined. You step out unto
unfamiliar territory, but with time you become comfortable there. I remember
the first time I set foot in Africa at the age of 19 during an exchange visit
as a student, I was pretty scared and fired up at the same time. Now having
visited and resided in many countries in Africa for several years, I feel very
comfortable traveling and residing abroad. There is something else that I
really love and only found out by learning other languages – your personality
and sense of humor can be quite different in different languages. I would never
have guessed… Growing your comfort zone, is growing your level of confidence
and discovering new talents. It is about getting comfortable in situations that
would previously have stressed you out – making you open to see the beauty and
the opportunities around you.
3. Conquering fear sets you on a path to
past fear, puts us on a path to learning. My son has been so happy the past two
weeks and so many good things have happened to him because of his positive
state of mind. When I asked him how he feels things are going, he relates
everything back to one event. Two weeks ago he was struggling with something.
Together we went to see his teacher about it. The latter was really supportive.
Afterwards my son felt like a winner: he had conquered his fear. We need to
conquer the sometimes irrational fears and the discomfort that we get from
change to experience the pleasure that follows. It is like getting out of a
comfortable bed to do great things; like getting past the initial cold
sensation, when stepping into a swimming pool. It is like overcoming the
initial shyness when stepping out onto a stage. It is like the fear I am
experiencing now, writing this article and wondering whether you will like it.
you ready to fail and to learn?
is an African proverb, “To get lost is to learn the way”.
Why do we get greatness by growing or stepping out of our comfort zones?
Because we learn. We learn by failing at something and trying it over and over
until we stumble on something great. We learn by adapting to difficult,
unexpected circumstances. We learn to look at things from different angles.
Having worked in education and particularly in vocational training, the trend
is to promote competency-based training and assessment. It is about learning by
doing, because you cannot master any skill without getting your feet wet.
I am wrapping up this article, I look up and contemplate a black kite in the
skies above. It is majestically gliding on the winds, it is soaring and free.
And I wonder if a comfort zone is a cage we make for ourselves in our own
heads, like a set of boundaries we give ourselves as an excuse for inaction.
And I recall this Kirundi proverb “A bird that does not fly, does not know where the seeds
So are you ready to spread your wings and fly? Now is as good a time as any to
venture out of your comfort zone and into the magic that lies beyond!