The 'Comfort Zone'
No one likes to be challenged out of their 'comfort zone'. You know - the place where you know you will succeed. Please note that I am not talking about real safety. There is a HUGE difference between challenging yourself to do something you are worried you will fail at, and putting yourself at risk of harm.
I am not a 'risk-taker' by any means. I hate roller-coasters. I despise scary movies. I don't speed through yellow lights hoping to pass through. At the same time, I'm not superstitious. I will take some risks if I think that they are reasonable. I will apply for positions that I am not sure I will get. I will try drawing something that I have never tried before. I will (cautiously!) try new yoga positions to test my balance.
At the same time, I very much dislike getting out of my comfort zone in certain situations. For example, I applied to a position a while ago, feeling nervous that I would not get it. I mean, how awful would it be if I did NOT get it? I would feel like a failure. Like I 'wasn't good enough'. How pathetic would it be to look others in the eye and KNOW that they did not choose me for the position?
But are these thoughts realistic? Would I really be a FAILURE if I did not the position? Would I be the first or last person to apply for a role and not get it?
Part of stepping out of our comfort zones means noticing the stories we tell ourselves. What is your story about your comfort zone? What happens if you try and do not succeed? What do you tell yourself if you get nervous in front of a group when you present? What does it say about you if you lead a group but you don't all achieve your goals? What is the message you repeat to yourself if you try a project but don't get it right the first time?
You see, it's ourselves who define our comfort zones. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Your comfort zone is comfortable...and that's all. It provides stability. But to grow, to test your limits, to know your potential...you have to step out of that comfort zone. Which is, obviously, uncomfortable. But it can be incredibly worth it.
Maybe you won't succeed. Maybe you will try, but you won't get the job. Or that person won't be interested in you. Or your coworkers won't agree with your ideas.
But, at least you will have tried. You will have learned lessons about yourself, about others, about life, and about taking (safe) risks. You will have noticed that you are capable of trying new things. You are capable of taking risks, of accepting rejections and disappointments, and of growing all the while.
You are allowed to take risks, to step out of that comfort zone that you have created, to go beyond the limits you set yourself. You are allowed to dream, to make goals, and to try to achieve them. You are also allowed to be imperfect, to take steps back, and to regroup when things don't go as planned.
You are allowed to be human. Because if it doesn't challenge, you, it doesn't change you.