In The Zone
You’re sitting there. Cozy in your comfort zone. WHAM! Something happens. Something earth-shaking happens. Then a scramble to find a new normal.
That is the essence of growth. You are trucking along at “Normal”, something happens, then you work your tail off to understand “New Normal”. Our lives are filled with stories like this of growth. Some have happy endings. Some sad. They all have growth. With the prospect of being uncomfortable… is growth worth it?
We have all said we love to grow. As people or as parents. As students or teachers. Sometimes we say we love to grow in our jobs too.
So why is it that when growth comes we often buck like a rodeo bull to keep things the same?
I believe it’s because of our mindsets and our fears. Let’s take a look at both.
Our mindset is in part responsible for how we respond in situations and whether we will have a successful outcome or not.
We are how we act. Both proactive and responsive actions make up how we show up in the world. Without the proper mindset towards the great big “something happened” we can miss the opportunity for growth.
Think of a time in the last week when something unexpected happened.
- Did you react negatively? Or respond positively?
- When did you walk away and blame someone else?
- Were you able to apologize and own it?
- Did you look for ways to prevent it in the future?
Your mindset had a lot to do with whatever your answers to these questions were. With a fixed mindset, you would tend to think the big “something happened” actually happened to you. Not only that but it happened to you because Sheila didn’t do her job. You may even be super pissed off at Sheila as a result.
In a growth mindset, you might ask “What did I learn from _____”. Maybe even, “I see how Sheila could feel that way. I wonder how we could avoid that next time.”
Approaching issues with a growth mindset melts blame and assumes responsibility. That is why it is so hard. We seem hardwired to not do more than we have to. More on our subconscious in a moment.
Face Your Fears
Yep. Even you, cowboy. You have fears. Some that live deep in the back of your brain. That automatic part called the subconscious.
Your brain has been keeping you alive ever since you breathed your first breath. We’ve been feeding our brains new information (whether we meant to or not) the whole time.
Think about it. We learn that when we cry we get food. When you feel unsafe or alone someone will hug you or the opposite. Attention (positive or negative) comes when you act up or out. You learn to keep your heart closed off when someone dies or you learn to you must move on.
These things keep you alive and feeling safe. Too much dependence on these things can also keep you from learning to feed yourself, be “ok” being alone, acting inappropriately when you don’t get the attention you crave, or from feeling the warmth of true love because your heart is closed off.
In order to love, you must face your fears head-on. Afraid to write that book? Sit down and begin. Afraid to save money because you don’t know how to manage it well? Open that account and set up the automatic deductions. Afraid to run a marathon? Sign up and train.
Fear disintegrates in the presence of love. That includes the love of doing something too. Love > Fear.
You have to look into that dark cave and walk in. Face fear down and expose fear for the loser it is. Starve fear with your actions. Fear cannot survive on a diet of love and action.
Growth Is Uncomfortable
Now a word on comfort. Your brain has been keeping you comfortable your whole life. When something disrupts that comfort your brain gets to work to restore it. Even at the expense of your growth. Get over being uncomfortable.
BE uncomfortable. The fringe is where the growth is. Growing is uncomfortable. BE uncomfortable. Get used to being uncomfortable and having the right mindset tilted toward growth.
Tips For Your Exodus From The Comfort Zone
- Change the question from “What went wrong?” To “What could I learn from this?”
- Practice being uncomfortable with “baby steps”. Talk to strangers. Order something different at a restaurant or leave your order up to the server.
- Appreciate surprises that show up as training for leaving the comfort zone.
- Journal your thoughts each day on learning from the prior day.
- Recognize when you are casting blame and ask, “What could I do to prevent this next time?”.
You Are Growing
The truth is that one way or the other, you are growing. If you react to issues and cast blame you are growing alright… in your competency of being a victim. If you approach issues that arise with the mindset of learning you will grow beyond the issues in the future.
What experiences do you have of leaving the comfort zone? Would you be willing to share? Leave your answer in the comments below. Your story may be the encouragement another reader needs to leave the zone today.