A spy was captured and sentenced to death by a general in the Persian Army. Before carrying out the sentence the general gave the spy a strange choice. He told him he could have his choice of a firing squad or a big black door. After much deliberation the spy chose the firing squad and within a few moments he was dead. The general turned to his aide and said, “They always prefer the known way to the unknown.” The aide then asked the general, “What’s behind the black door?”
“Freedom!” Replied the general. Behind the black door is a passageway that leads outside, but only a few have been brave enough to see what was behind it!
The moral of this story is this: Comfort zones aren’t as comfortable as we think!
My mother told me several times while I was growing up that the fear of the unknown is a trap. Fearing to step out of our comfort zones is just that – a trap.
But what is a comfort zone anyway? Simply, your comfort zone is a behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. It provides a state of mental security. You benefit in obvious ways: regular happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress.
Here are some facts that take away the comfort from comfort zones:
– They are not comfortable, they are just known. They should be called known zones.
– They prevent growth
– They shun opportunity
– they give the illusion of well-being, or rather they justify our unrealised discomfort
John Ortberg is a Christian author and speaker and he wrote a book, the title is this: If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat! In other words, the only way to accomplish great things is by stepping out of your comfort zone!
My Facebook page is adorned with this great cover photo which says : Everything you desire lies on the other side of fear. I have to remind myself of this fact every day. Why? Because I don’t want fear to rule my life. I do not want to let fear overpower my dreams. And to be honest, because I have let fear do this very thing too often.
Many times in my life I have intentionally stepped out of my comfort zone:
When I first got married and had to move out of the house into the real world, I stepped out of my comfort zone.
When we decided to have our first child, and a second, and a third… I stepped out of my comfort zone… every time.
When my wife and I decided to move from Quebec to PEI with two young children, a dog, and a Dodge Caravan packed to the brim… we were definitely stepping out of our comfort zone!
In opening this Blog with this featured article, I am stepping out of my comfort zone!
So… what is there to gain by stepping out of our comfort zone? Everything you wish you had my friends. Everything you wish you had. So, my suggestion to you is this: stop wishing and start moving!
The magazine Psychology Today listed 5 major advantages of stepping out of your comfort zone. Here are the advantages to stepping out of your comfort zone:
1 – Your “real life” is out there waiting for you. Your real life exists beyond the bubble of your own personal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Your real life is the sum total of ALL of your experiences, not just the one’s you’re comfortable with.
2 – It makes you Dig Deeper. Challenging yourself pushes you to dip into and utilize your personal store of untapped knowledge and resources. You have no idea what you’re made of unless and until you venture outside of your own familiar world.
3 – It will make you grow. Taking risks, regardless of their outcome, are growth experiences. Even if you make mistakes or don’t get it right the first time there’s always these experiences you’ve had to tap into for the future. There really is no such thing as “fail” if you got something out of the experience. And just so you know, “FAIL” re-framed means “first attempt in learning”.
4 – It will make you Accumulate Wisdom through experience. Your challenges and risk experiences are cumulative. Every time you try something new, allow yourself to be open to whatever experience arises, you are learning, and expanding your repertoire of life skills and self-knowledge. As you do this you are also expanding the size of your comfort zone.
5 – It will make you more adaptable to change. Leaving your comfort zone ultimately helps you to deal with change—and making change in a much better way. Life transitions are all about change. Each time you transition you move to another level. Inevitably, these life transitions transform you.
So, in closing, let me leave you with a question: What is behind your big black door?
Recommended Reading: Thrive on Purpose – 8 Stepping Stones to a Successful and Fulfilled Life (Available on Amazon Kindle) here: