Most of the coaches we know deal with peoples’ comfort zones every day. In fact, most of us as Speakers, Authors and Coaches are in business BECAUSE we help to stretch people’s comfort zones!
But how often do YOU stretch?!
We’ve all heard the expression that if you want to get something that you haven’t already got, you’ve got to do something different to achieve it.
However, it takes a lot for many people to stretch themselves, as it often involves the risk of failing, looking stupid or unprofessional, so it gets put in the too hard or do later pile. And it doesn’t get done, even though you know it’s the one thing you NEED to do.
Sometimes you just don’t know WHAT to do to go to the next level… which is why having a coach is so important. Coaches need coaches too, for all sorts of stages in the business.
To grow you have to stretch!
If you think of the elastic band analogy — once stretched, it can never go back to the same shape — that’s a little like what growth is like. We dip our toe in the water and we are changed, we can’t unknow or undo the experience we just had. And that’s great, because it opens up possibility. Nothing is the same any more and that opens the window for doing it differently.
Everything we know and do is contained within the circle of that elastic band; let’s call it your current comfort zone. Everything you desire is outside it and may mean you need to do or be something new or different. Let’s call that your stretch zone. After all, if it’s not yours yet, and it ‘feels’ like it’s a little unattainable, it’s likely to be ‘outside your comfort zone’.
Your comfort zone is unique to you.
The great news is that your comfort zone is totally yours — it’s created from your personality, skills & experiences & it’s actually there as part of your survival — it’s where you feel safe & where your body doesn’t run on adrenaline. It’s the place to breathe from. As your confidence & life experiences increase, your comfort zone expands too.
We like to also associate comfort zone with competencies. Being outside of your comfort zone, you are either consciously or unconsciously competent. Stepping out of your safety zone, you dare to leap or prod where you don’t know something. You have a go and know that you can always run home to safetey.
Most of us know how to drive, so think back to when you were learning. You were SO aware of mirror, signal, manoeuvre…, of getting the biting point as you changed gear etc… but after a couple of years of driving, you do all of this with unconscious competency whilst having the radio blasting, talking to your friends or clients, & putting lipstick on! You got out of the comfort zone of ‘not knowing’ and became competent over time so your circle expanded.
Defining your current comfort zone.
The best way to recognise your comfort zone is to draw a circle and add everything you are currently doing inside it; your conversations, your parenting style, where you live, what you are producing, your tech savvy etc. Everything inside the circle is in your comfort zone, i.e. you are comfortable with it (you may not like it, but you are comfortable with it). It’s what you do habitually, what you know how to do.
Now add everything outside the circle — all that you desire in your life, but do not currently have or the skills you don’t possess, or the beingness you’d like to attain — most of us creative, ambitious folk could use a little more patience!
Here’s the thing — to get these things INSIDE our comfort zone, you’re probably going to have to do something new or different. You’re going to have to step outside of your comfort zone.
Think about it — what can you do now that you could not a year ago? How did that happen? You learned, you committed, you worked at it, you decided, you rolled your sleeves up, you asked for help, you experimented, you researched. All these actions helped you step into your ‘stretch zone’.
Don’t go near the PANIC zone!
You need to know your stretch zone parameters. Stepping too far away from what feels safe and familiar can feel like entering the Panic zone. This can create overwhelm and procrastination or even a full stop and ‘ostriching’ for some (putting your head in the sand and ignore the situation or running ‘home’). For others, you might thrive on having all your senses on alert and having to scrabble towards the deadline or figure things out at the last minute.
How to know you’ve hit the panic zone!
Here’s the thing — whether you have a small stretch zone, or whether it’s a massive expanse, you’ll still reach a point where you can’t humanly keep that up without some impact.
- To your body (too much stress)
- To your mind (too much to learn)
- To your soul (too much to handle)
So our suggestion is to learn how you can work with YOUR comfort zone. Ours are different. We work in partnership, and we’ve had to recognise our own zones, and communicate these to each other.
It shows up in how we work together. Honouring each other’s comfort zones is part of the fun and respect we have. That’s true for all of you who work in teams by the way — get to know what pushes someone’s buttons and what their triggers are. The chance is that when they get a bit erratic and out of character, they are stepping too close to their panic zone. That might mean they get more controlling, or snappy, or withdraw, or get hyper vigilant. Watch for anything out of ‘ordinary’ behaviour and work to bring them back into the stretch zone or even all the way back to comfort and start again!
We get to choose how comfortable we are!
The great thing is that your comfort zone is that it’s a choice, and so is stepping out of it and back into it. YOU are in charge. But here are some things to know, so you don’t just stay where you are but actually go for growth at your pace.
- Where the maximal growth occurs is at the edge of support and comfort so get to know these zones intimately:
- your comfort zone
- your ‘discomfort’ zone
- your panic zone
That way you can set up experiments for yourself to provide that growth continuously or as often or little as you wish.
2. Expect to muck up and make mistakes! Acknowledge that your ‘first’ will always be your worst & take the pressure off by expecting it to be perfect. Find ways to make it safe or compensate for that anticipated eek factor. For example, when we help a lot of our clients to do their first FB lives, we recommend that they set up a private test FB group where they can practice going LIVE but to no audience except themselves. This helps them get used to the tech, how to respond to comments etc.
3. Set up ways for you to prepare or practice for moving out of your comfort zone. Anticipate what’s needed for your journey into the stretch zone. Pack the right equipment or people to go with you — coaches need coaches too, remember! Who might guide you? What resources do you need?
Doing it On Your TERMS.
Finally, here are some tips for you speakers, authors and coaches on how to get out of your comfort zone without going straight to panic zone:
- Tap into your desire — know what you want & what it will do for you
- Decide — make it part of your why, allow yourself to get excited about what you desire
- Get momentum — tiny things layered suddenly mean you’ve got to expert status (or at least know how to do it competently!)
- Make it important & focus on it, make it the first thing or the one thing on your list; as you get momentum, you’ll get excited and productive, and then you are unstoppable
- Tackle the fear — any journey into the unknown will bring some. Know it’s bound to happen or show it’s face. Accept you’ll get fearful along the way. And know who to reach out to when it does, or remember your why to keep you going
- Break it down. Get some help. Support yourself. And put some fun into it!
An old classic book to help you bust through your comfort zone is Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. It’s a great read, and will help you take more risks and expand your elastic band. Because once you’ve stretched it, it just can’t go back to it’s own shape. You’ll grow and you’ll grow your business too.
So tell us, what are you going to commit to over the next 90 days to push out of your comfort zone? Do let us know here, or come and join us inside The Connection Hub and meet 1000s of other speakers, authors and coaches who are all pushing their comfort zones too!