Yeah, you heard me right.
Stop stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Why would I say this? Because I believe the metaphors we use to help us make sense of the world actually matter- and I believe this metaphor is flawed.
We often think of "stepping outside our comfort zone" as this experiment of dipping our toe into the pool of adversity and then retreating back into our comfortable space after a few brief moments. We get the thrill of getting near the waters and some of us even enjoy the bragging rights of getting wet.
But let's get real, we were never really submerged in it. We never fully committed and got all the way in.
Instead of thinking about stepping outside of our comfort zones for brief moments, what if we considered actually expanding them in all areas? What if we made a lifestyle of pushing the boundaries in one area of life, so that growth and expansion might happen in others? What if these weren't one-off, limited experiences, but instead, something that we pursued every month, every week or every day?
What would an adoption of this mindset- that we should constantly be looking to challenge ourselves- do to our ability to perform at work, challenge ourselves in the gym, love our partner and attack our passion projects with reckless abandon?
It's subtle distinction in thought process that influences how we live and how we view adversity, discomfort and growth.
Think of a Navy Seal: would you like to have their levels of mental toughness, grit and courage? I would. But Navy Seals don't cultivate those attributes in their lives by playing "let's get uncomfortable once or twice a year and then give ourselves a high-five for doing it" game (that's a game, right?).
No, they live there. They thrive there. They choose, every day, to expand their comfort zones and to embrace the unknown. They swim in icy ocean waters, endure hours of psychological trials and run towards danger (while most of us run away from it); they've made a lifestyle of it. I don't pretend to understand the depths of what they experience physically, psychologically and emotionally, but I do know that they're strong enough to come out the other side. And I think we could learn a thing or two from that.
I say all these things as much to myself as I do to you all. I'm just as scared as the next guy when I think about what might lie beyond my comfort zone.
So how do we do it? How do we actually expand our zone of comfort? We talk about that subject on the latest episode of the podcast.