I constantly see some version of this image from well-intentioned people who want to encourage others to be better. The idea is simple… If you want to be successful, if you want to get better, then you need to get out of your comfort zone.
I completely disagree.
Here’s why . . .
I’ve always loved to make people laugh. I get tremendous joy from knowing that I’ve made people smile. I’m happy (and comfortable) telling funny stories and delighting audiences. Magic happens when I do what I’m comfortable with.
I love to be active and to be outdoors. I’m looking forward to speaking at the ACETECH Whistler Summit because of the amazing trails and breathtaking scenery. I’m happy (and comfortable) running up mountains, across rivers, and through forests. Magic happens when I do what I’m comfortable with.
I love challenging goals. I enjoy pushing myself to be better. I’m uncomfortable remaining stagnant, maintaining the status quo, and not moving forward. I’m happy (and comfortable) setting big goals and making plans to achieve them. Magic happens when I do what I’m comfortable with.
I love to travel. I get bored staying too long in one place. I’m energized by visiting new places, eating new foods, meeting new people, and learning new customs. I’m happy (and comfortable) when I’m exploring. Magic happens when I do what I’m comfortable with . . .
. . . and when I allow myself to be more of who I am,
. . . and when I explore every square inch of my comfort zone.
Would it really be more magical for me to be more serious, to be less active, to be more satisfied, and to travel less? Should I fight my urge to make people laugh, to get outside, to achieve, and to stay at home? I don’t think that makes a lot of sense.
Our comfort zone is filled with what we love and what we are good at. Why would we want to leave? Why should we leave? Why is it maladaptive to stay in this place? Why is it so desirable to escape?
Outside of our comfort zone are activities that we don’t love and aren’t good at. Why would we want to spend more time there? Why is it so helpful to be in this place?
You like to be at home. People want you to get out more.
You like to go out. People want you to stay home more.
If getting out more (being out of your comfort zone) is where the magic happens, then why does the other person need to stay home more?
You like to be alone. People want you to spend time with friends and family.
You like to be with others. People want you to embrace solitude.
If being with others (being out of your comfort zone) is where the magic happens, then why does the other person need to spend more time alone?
Why is something good just because it is the opposite of what you’re comfortable with?
Why is something bad just because you naturally enjoy it?
You’re comfortable with it because it matches your innate personality. Your energy and confidence both increase when you act in ways that are congruent with your personality.
You’re uncomfortable with some things because they clash with your personality. Your energy and confidence both decrease when you force yourself to act in ways that are incongruent with your personality.
Why wouldn’t you want more energy and confidence? I do.
What do you gain by fighting your natural style? Not much.
One final point . . .
Activities in your comfort zone are outside of someone else’s comfort zone. For example, I love to give presentations. I love to be up front. I love to be the center of attention. But public speaking is way outside of most people’s comfort zone.
I think that I should keep speaking (and stay in my comfort zone) while others avoid public speaking (and stay in their comfort zone). Despite what you’ve heard, it’s possible to live a full and fulfilling life without giving speeches. It’s just not necessary. You love other stuff. Do that.
I’m sure you can think of some counter-examples. I’m sure you have parts of your comfort zone that don’t seem adaptive or positive. But this is a blog post, not a book, so we don’t have time to deal with every possible objection.
For now, just spend a few minutes defining the adaptive and positive areas of your comfort zone and thinking about how magical it might be to spend more time going deeper into your comfort zone, instead of trying to escape it.