Page 1


Beyond The Comfort Zone


The Comfort Zone Expanding your comfort zone is not quite the same as building self-confidence. However, the two do fit together rather well. Â Remember that nothing really bad can happen to you if you are smart in how you go about trying new things. It is all just new adventures. Become like a curious child and have some fun.

Practice becoming spontaneous The whole point of a too tight comfort zone is that you do not give yourself room to be free, playful, and spontaneous. You are too self-censoring and too routine for your own happiness. Give yourself permission to expand your wings so you can fly a little higher and a little further to see what else is out there.

“You must get out of your comfort zone,” is a well-known cliche. But I think this often misses the point. It depends on what somebody means by ‘comfort zone’. I define it as the place where you feel comfortable and able to do great work. You are in your element. You are energetic, at ease and able to excel. You feel comfortable because ‘this is what you were meant to do’. Sometimes you feel uncomfortable not being in this place. When I was a football coach, for example, I recruited players who strove to do their best and win every match. That was their psychological comfort zone. They felt uncomfortable if they were not winning every game. Peak performers often take three steps towards fulfilling their potential. First, they clarify the activities in which they feel

comfortable and are able to excel. Second, they clarify the principles they follow in their comfort zone. Third, they follow these principles to expand their comfort zone. Let’s explore how to make this happen.

Clarify your comfort zone  Where are the situations in which you feel most comfortable?  When do you feel creative and get concrete results?  When do you feel in your element – energetic, at ease and able to excel?  What are the specific situations in which you love to build on your strengths, sweat and achieve success? An actor longs to be on stage; a researcher yearns to gather data; a creator loves to

create. Sometimes you feel tense: but it is a positive tension, not a negative tension. You use it to spur yourself on to greater efforts. This is your comfort zone. You feel more at ease doing these things than not doing them. Some writers report that: “Writing is painful, but not as painful as not writing.” A life boat crew may feel in danger on the high seas. But they feel even more uncomfortable sitting on the shore, unable to help sailors caught in a storm. Sometimes your ‘comfort zone’ is actually doing something that it would be more painful not to do. Try tackling the exercise on this theme: There are probably many activities where you feel comfortable – where you feel ‘this is what I was meant to do’. Choose one of these and complete the following sentence.

The specific activity where I feel in my comfort zone – where I feel energetic, at ease and able to excel - is: a) --------------------------------------------------b) --------------------------------------------------c) --------------------------------------------------Think of as many as you can.

You can clarify the principles you follow in your comfort zone “I have been asked to speak on a television programme, but I feel nervous,” said Jane.

“Normally I am good with clients in one-toone coaching situations. I have more difficulty running large seminars or doing keynote speeches, however, let alone television interviews. My voice starts straining. Maybe it is because I am trying to convince people and almost start preaching. Looking ahead to the TV interview, I would like to feel at ease there as I do with my one-to-one work.” Would this be possible? Jane and I explored the principles she followed when in her comfort zone – doing individual work with clients. What did she do right then? Some of the principles she followed were:

* She was doing what she loved – helping people to succeed. She also felt in ‘control’ of the situation. She felt confident she could

deal with anything that came up in a one-toone session. * She anticipated the person’s agenda – their goals for the session. She considered the options for working with the issues the person might want to explore. * She felt relaxed and made the person feel welcome at the start of the session. She give the person 100% attention, asked what they would like to explore and made clear contracts for the session. * She listened carefully for the theme in what the person was saying. She then shared her knowledge in a way that helped the person to achieve their goals. She communicated this in a way that spoke to both the heart and head. * She checked to see the person’s response. She built on this response and did whatever was necessary to help the person to achieve success.

Working together, Jane and I began exploring some of these principles she wanted to follow in the television interview. This called for focusing on three steps that a person can take to be true to themselves in a challenging situation.

Following your principles in challenging situations There are many way to approach challenging situations. One is to focus on the principles you follow in the situations where you feel comfortable – where you feel in your element, at ease and excel. Looking ahead to a challenging situation, you can then take the following steps:  You can clarify the principles most people follow in the situation. (this does

not mean that you agree with them – just that you know the principles.  You can clarify the principles you want to follow in the situation.  You can clarify how you want to follow the principles in the situation. You can then follow your principles in the situation. Bearing these factors in mind, Jane planned her strategy. This called for understanding the principles – the ‘rules’ – the interviewer would follow in the programme. For example, they would ask questions and give 30 seconds for answers.

They would act as a ‘devil’s advocate’ or try to create conflict by making provocative statements. They would not be interested in the answers. They would prefer to get soundbytes that made the interview memorable. The television format itself called for Jane using some of her skills from coaching situations. So she settled on her strategy:

* She would take control by anticipating the possible questions. She would, however, clarify the three key messages she wanted to get across to the audience. * She would be calm, warm and look straight at the interviewer. Acknowledging the interviewer’s question, she would make the link from the question to what she wanted to communicate. She would reach out to the wider audience – communicating with them as if she was talking with individuals.


* She would reframe the interview as a chance to pass-on knowledge that helped viewers to succeed. This called for: a) Giving examples that people could relate to b) Giving ideas that people found inspiring or practical. She would focus on a few themes and bring these to life with good examples. There was one big hurdle. Jane worked best when she got a response and built on the other person’s reaction. This is what concerned her most about the TV programme. The interviewer would not necessarily want to connect.

So, in the interview situation, she must pursue other principles that enabled her to be true to herself. Jane now felt more in control. She looked forward to the interview and sharing her ideas with people. Jane enjoyed the television interview. “I am not sure how everybody responded,” she said. “The TV company changed their plans at the last minute and set-up a panel discussion. This meant that participants fought to get their points across. Fortunately I stayed calm and people said the key messages came across well. The important thing was that I felt in control and said what I wanted in the programme.” Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Let’s start with the first part.


Looking at the specific activity where you feel comfortable, what are the principles you follow to perform fine work? Try completing the following sentence.

The principles I follow in the situation where I feel in my comfort zone – where I feel energetic, at ease and able to excel - are: a) b) c) d) e)


You can follow these principles to expand your comfort zone. Bearing in mind the principles that work for you when you are comfortable, can you think of a challenging situation where you would like to put these into practice? You may, for example, want to step up from a management role to participate in Board Meetings; do a keynote speech at a conference; or make tough decisions that will affect half your team. How can you follow some of your key principles in your chosen situation? Try tackling the exercise on this theme. First, describe the challenging situation. Second, describe the principles most people follow in that situation. Third, describe the

principles you want to follow in the challenging situation – and how you can translate these into practice. Try completing the following sentences.

The challenging situation is: * The principles that most people follow in this situation are: * * * The principles I want to follow in this situation – and how - are: * * *


Sometimes I followed these principles as a football coach. When working with a player, the keys were: a) To clarify the position in which they felt most comfortable and gave their best performances b) To clarify the principles they followed then c) To coach them to keep following those principles and express these in other parts of their game. The player then expanded their comfort zone. One final point: sometimes we choose to do things that are uncomfortable, such as taking tough decisions. The key is that it would ultimately more uncomfortable to avoid the challenging situation. Being true to yourself, you then follow your principles and expand your comfort zone.


Here are some other things you can do: 1. Break from a routine or habit you've had for a long time and find a different, perhaps better way to do it. 2. If you're typically a sedentary person take a break from reading or the computer and find a physical activity you can enjoy and partake in. If you're normally very active, learn to wind down, read or relax. 3. Read a book, watch a movie or listen to music in a genre you're not familiar with. If you usually read mysteries, try reading an inspiring biography, if you like action movies, try a romantic comedy, if you just listen to rock, try some jazz music.


4. If happen to be a shy person and have trouble speaking in front of people, join a group like Toastmasters International where they encourage you to speak in public by using positive and helpful techniques. The more practice you get, the more comfortable you'll be and the better you will feel about yourself. 5. Go to an ethnic restaurant and try a dish from a culture different from your own. It will stimulate your taste buds and possibly open up a whole new cuisine. 6. Volunteer at the downtown mission or soup kitchen for a day and realize how comfortable your life really is, while helping someone at the same time.

Benefits of expanding your comfort zone: •

• • •

• •

Enhances your enjoyment and experience of life Stimulates brain activity and therefore boosts your mental health Increases self-confidence Makes you more resilient Helps prevent getting stuck in a rut or becoming depressed Challenges you to improve yourself Prevents atrophy

Stretching yourself and expanding your comfort zone is an important part of personal development.


My Comfort Zone (Author Unknown) I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn't fail. The same four walls and busywork were really more like jail. I longed so much to do the things I'd never done before, But stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor. I said it didn't matter that I wasn't doing much. I said I didn't care for things like commission checks and such. I claimed to be so busy with the things inside the zone, But deep inside I longed for something special of my own. I couldn't let my life go by just watching others win. I held my breath; I stepped outside and let the change begin.


I took a step and with new strength I'd never felt before, I kissed my comfort zone goodbye and closed and locked the door. If you're in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out, Remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt. A step or two and words of praise can make your dreams come true. Reach for your future with a smile; success is there for you!

Popular Quotes A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar. Lao-Tzu


We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present. Thomas Edison A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown. Denis Waitley If you remain in your comfort zone you will not go any further. Catherine Pulsifer Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort. Peter McWilliams We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are. Max DePree


Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined. Comfort kills! T. Harv Eker If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness. Les Brown One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again. Abraham Maslow It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. Seneca


Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. Brian Tracy Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort. Peter McWilliams A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown. Denis Waitley Every moment of one's existence one is growing into more or retreating into less. Norman Mailer Progress always involves risk; you can't progress to second base and also keep your foot on first. Christie Mason


We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are. Max DePree A ship in a harbour is safe, but that's not what a ship is built for. Unknown If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness. Les Brown Life loses its meaning when we get stuck up in comfort zone. M.K. Soni We tend to be held back from our goals by the simplicity of our comfort zones...but just how comfortable are we? Wouldn't we be more content living in our dreams? Michelle C. Ustaszeski


To the degree we're not living our dreams, our comfort zone has more control of us than we have over ourselves. Peter Williams Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. Alan Alda If you remain in your comfort zone you will not go any further. Catherine Pulsifer It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. W. Somerset Maugham My experience is that you cannot have everything you want but you can anything you really want, you just


need to decide what it is and then plan your exit from the comfort zone. Jonathan Farrington A man grows most tired while standing still. Chinese Proverb If you don't step out of your comfort zone and face your fears, the number of situations that make you uncomfortable will keep growing. Theo Pistorius Ninety to ninety-five percent of people will withdraw to the comfort zone when what they try doesn't work. Only that small percentage, 5 or 10 percent, will continually improve themselves; they will continually push themselves out into the zone of discomfort, and these are always the highest performers in every field. Brian Tracy

Man is what he believes Anton Chekhov If you're in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out, remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt. Source Unknown “How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively. “you must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” Trina Paulus My friend, leaving one's comfort zone is no small chore! Trust me, I've learned this first hand. I can say that when all's said and done it's worth it! Josh Hinds ...and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anais Nin

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Goethe

“Come to the edge” “We might fall”. “Come to the edge”. “It’s too high!”. “COME TO THE EDGE!”. And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. Christopher Logue

Truth Are you sure you are right? Quite, quite sure? Being “right” closes doors On other people’s “rights” Who think you are wrong, Even as you believe they Are wrong. There’s never just one right. There are as many rights As there are people, And just as many wrongs. Keep the doors of your mind open So the rights and wrongs and in-betweens Can pass through freely. Among such flotsam and jetsam Of knowledge and beliefs Can be found a precious gem Beyond all rights and wrongs The center of cosmic truth.

Author Unknown

Credits: Mike Pegg (

The Comfort Zone  

A workbook providing ideas on how to move beyond your comfort zone.