This morning, like most mornings, I practiced Yoga. Throughout the last ten years or so, I have used Yoga to compliment my other workouts, such as cycling, running, swimming and weightlifting. It provides me with thirty minutes of uninterrupted focus on my body while at the same time preparing my mind for the day.
The same happens when we push against our zone of comfort. Our Zone of Comfort can be defined as an emotional state where you are most comfortable. You perform your best. You are most relaxed. You are most confident. You have your strongest relationships. Your knowledge matches the knowledge of the assigned responsibilities. There is also a dark side to the zone of comfort, it can be the place where we hide our talents from the world because of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of Failure. Fear of newness.
For most of my life, I was afraid of public speaking. In fact, most people are afraid of public speaking. This tidbit, however, didn’t help me with my fear. It took years and a lot of practice for me to be comfortable talking in front of an audience. And let’s make this clear, by comfortable, I mean that I understand that I will have strong emotions around public speaking but I know that I can channel these emotions into positive behaviors that benefit my audience.
Yet by stretching my zone of comfort around public speaking, I was able to become more confident in my other interpersonal relationships. I was better able to talk to people in positions of power; I was better able to communicate to my staff about our goals; I was better able to network with people whom I just met.
Stretching your zone of comfort, no matter what activity who choose whether it is learning a new skill, going to a foreign country, presenting your ideas to the executive team, or introducing yourself to a group, is an important step towards success.
Some basic guidelines to stretching your zone of comfort.
- Start small. If you are going to learn a new language, you need to get the basics understood before you start worrying about complex sentence structure.
- Consistent and Continuous practice. Like muscles, for you to keep stretching your zone of comfort you need to continually push at regular intervals for you to keep it in place.
- Ask for support. Whether it is a teacher or a coach, ask an expert to help you gain knowledge and skills. Their expert guidance will help you achieve our goal faster.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is a normal process of learning. It tells us what not to do and reinforces us on what to do. I can’t’ tell you how many times, I fell out of Yoga poses as I learned them.
- Persistence. Keep at it. You will get better. When I look back on the public speaker I was in college to the public speaker I am now, the change is amazing.
Every day is another day to pursue your dreams, to chase away your fear and to be a better you. Take advantage of it.