Individuals with positive, well adjusted attitudes work at stretching their comfort zone. It can be your closest ally or your most bitter enemy. Your comfort zone can increase your chances of learning new attitudes and skills. It can also prevent you from learning any. Your comfort zone can help you increase your income. It can also cause a slump to take it away. It can make you action oriented. It can stop you from taking any action at all. Your comfort zone can create a rut. A rut is a grave with the ends knocked out. Your comfort zone is a powerful force. The good news is that it is you who controls your comfort zone. It’s time to take control.
There is a range of activities and behaviors in which you feel comfortable. It is an internal regulating system that at times, is necessary for survival. Think, for example of the last meeting room you were in at a hotel. In that hotel there is a heating and a cooling system, with a thermometer on the wall.
When the system was designed they created a comfort zone of a few degrees. This was created for an important reason. Without it the heating and cooling system would kick in every one tenth of one degree below or above the set temperature. The systems would fight each other and would be inefficient. So they build in dead space and say as long as the temperature remains within 4 degrees of the set temperature there is dead space and no system needs to operate. Gauges in the room check the temperature and based on electronic feedback adjust when necessary.
Your comfort zone is not controlled by electronic feedback but by bio-feedback. Bio feedback is a very powerful force. Over the years, I have illustrated the power of the comfort zone and bio feedback to thousands of audiences. The power of suggestion would make their hearts beat more quickly or cause their temperature to rise.
Do you remember those early days in school when you had to give your five minute presentation? Many would write out their speech and then spend countless hours memorizing the words. Then one day it was your turn to speak and bio-feedback took over. Bio-feedback would dry out your mouth making your tongue feel three feet thick and your body temperature rise. Then there’s that queasy feeling in your stomach as your heart began to race. You could almost hear your comfort zone yelling at you. “That’s not like you, it’s not like you to speak in public, come on back here to the comfort zone where it’s nice and cozy”. Your comfort zone and bio-feedback can be a powerful force.
Comfort zones are also controlled by peer pressure. Peer pressure can be overwhelming and make it difficult to go against the majority. I remember the first time I saw Oprah Winfrey on television. She had burst onto the scene and was obviously a talent. You may recall that in those days talk shows focused on bashing men and people generally whining about their situation in life. Oprah began doing the same type of show.
This proven formula had captured ratings and launched many careers. I remember seeing Oprah and thinking here we go again another show bashing men and focusing on whiners. When will someone focus on winners and not whiners I thought? As a result initially I wasn’t a huge fan of Oprah. I became a big fan when she expanded the comfort zone, went against the proven trend and began focusing her shows in a new and more positive direction. I think Oprah Winfrey is amazing.
Imagine the peer pressure and resistance she encountered when she boldly decided to take her television show in a new, more positive direction. Producers and sponsors must have freaked out when she wanted to pursue this new direction in unproven territory. It’s tough to go against the grain sometimes. Nevertheless she moved forward and as a result has had a positive impact on millions of people. More than her talent I admire her courage and perseverance. Yes Oprah Winfrey is amazing!
So what do you want to do? Do you want to be like the masses and stay in a rut? A rut is a grave with the ends knocked out. Do you want to live in the world of misery that’s always looking for company? I suspect that you don’t and that’s why you are here. The truth is sometimes you need to experience a little discomfort to get more comfortable. Learning a new skill, reading a different book, changing a routine, replacing a bad habit with a good one all take courage and persistence. Each day reflect on this question. Am I stretching my comfort zone? You will expand your comfort zone and increase your possibilities. I’ll see you in my next article.