The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Expanding Your Comfort Zone

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“You need to get out of your comfort zone,” is a well-known cliché.

But this often misses the point. Another approach is to focus on a person expanding their comfort zone.

It also depends on what somebody means by comfort zone. One person said, for example:

“I only feel comfortable doing my best and continuing to improve. I feel uncomfortable not doing my best.”

It would be crazy for a person to get out of their comfort zone of always doing their best.

So what does somebody actually mean when they say that a person needs to ‘get out of their comfort zone’? What they may really want to say is:

“The person needs to show more urgency, work harder and stretch themselves.”

A person can grow by expanding their comfort zone, however, rather than doing something totally alien.

They can tackle a stimulating challenge where, providing they stretch themselves, they stand a good chance of achieving success.

The novice mountaineer stretches themselves by climbing increasingly difficult mountains. This enables them to expand their comfort zone.

They do not immediately move from tackling small climbs to scaling Everest. Certainly they would be out of their comfort zone – and they may succeed – but it is more likely to end in tragedy.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Looking back at your life and work, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific example of when you expanded your comfort zone by tackling a stimulating challenge where you had to stretch yourself to succeed.

Describe the specific things you did then – the principles you followed – to expand your comfort zone by going through these stages.

Describe the specific things that you gained from the experience of expanding your comfort zone.

We will then explore how you may want to follow some of these principles in the future.

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Stimulation, Stretch and Success

Peak performers feel comfortable continually improving. They feel uncomfortable not developing.

Some writers report that: “Writing is painful, but not as painful as not writing.” They want to make sense of their experience and share it with the world.

A lifeboat crew feels in danger on the high seas. But they feel even more uncomfortable sitting on the shore, unable to help sailors caught in a storm.

Looking at your own life, can you think of a stimulating challenge you would like to tackle where you might expand your comfort zone? How can you make this happen?

If you want to go ahead, it can be useful to make plans by focusing on the What, Why, How, Who and When. Here is the overall framework.

The What

The specific challenge I want to tackle is:

*

The specific results I want to achieve by
tackling the challenge successfully are:

*

*

*

The Why

The specific benefits – both for myself and
other people – of delivering these results will be:

*

*

*

The How

The key strategies I can follow to give
myself the greatest chance of success are:

*

*

*

The Who

The key people – myself and maybe others – who will be responsible for
working to achieve the results, together with the roles they will play, will be:

*

*

*

The When

The specific things that need to be done – and by
when – on the road towards achieving the results are:

*

*

*

People often grow by stretching themselves. They need to set stretch goals they have a possibility of reaching, however, rather than setting surgery goals. The former can lead to growth, the latter can lead to injury.

Bearing this in mind, it can be useful to look at the following things regarding stretch when tackling a challenge.

The specific things you can probably do relatively comfortably – though still professionally – when tackling the challenge.

The specific things you may need to do to stretch your mind, body or competence when tackling the challenge.

The specific things you can do to make sure you stretch yourself – but not break yourself – when tackling the challenge.

Imagine that have clarified the strategies you can follow to do superb work and, when necessary, stretch yourself to achieve success. It can also be important to build in ways to encourage yourself on the journey.

Peak performers often follow a daily routine to do fine work, but they also build in time for rest and recovery. They are then able to rise to the occasion when it matters.

You will, have your own approach to taking these steps. If you wish, however, try tackling the exercise on this theme.

This invites you to explore how you may want to expand your comfort zone in the future. It invites you to do the following things.

Describe a stimulating challenge that you may want to tackle in the future where, in the process, you may expand your comfort zone.

Describe the specific things you can do to tackle the stimulating challenge, stretch yourself and do your best to achieve success.

Describe the specific benefits – both for yourself and for other people – of tackling the challenge successfully.

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