you bump into yourself all the time? Whether you’re
at work or at home, do you feel like there’s never
quite enough elbow-room?
a tight economy, one of the most valuable and
affordable ways to expand your “space” is to add
some square footage to your comfort zone. You don’t
need to take out a loan and it doesn’t come with a
mortgage. As a matter of fact, rather than
requiring that you make monthly payments, expanding
your comfort zone will pay you major ROI.
Everyone has a comfort zone. It is that invisible
space where we are familiar with what we are doing,
what is expected of us, and how to behave. These
self-proclaimed zones are places where we have been
before and feel at ease. We know where things are
and how to fix the occasional burned out light bulb
and when we look at ourselves in the mirror above
the sink, we know exactly what we look like – we
look like what we looked like yesterday!
definition, there are no surprises in our comfort
zones. Say, you have a favorite restaurant and you
go there every day for lunch and order the meatloaf
which is always fine. That would be, well, fine. But,
do you ever just salivate for something other than
meatloaf? Say, a tuna melt or a spinach salad or a
bowl of chicken noodle soup? Until you order
something else, there’s no way to know that it will
be fine. There is a possibility that it will be
disappointing, but there is also a chance that it
will be sensational.
me tell you about Sherry. She is the executive
director of a non-profit. She leads a capable staff
of 3 and she seems to bring out the best in each
person. She has monthly brainstorming sessions that
often result in new ideas and she passes them along
to the board president.
Recognizing Sherry’s talent for uncovering fresh
ideas, the president invites her to take on a
different role at the otherwise stale, really very
boring board meetings. Up until this time, Sherry
attended meetings as a note-taker, an implementer,
someone who made sure the room was the right
temperature and that there was enough Sweet & Low.
She could do it in her sleep. Now she is being
asked to facilitate a 45-minute brainstorm at the
upcoming board meeting.
Flattered? You bet! After five years of hard work,
complaining to her friends that she is
under-utilized and, now, she is now being recognized
and being given an opportunity to shine.
Anxious? You bet! What if the board members don’t
respond the way her staff does? What if no one
participates? What if the president of the board
stops her in the middle and says, “Sherry, what was
you don’t know how to do this.”
walls of Sherry’s comfort zone were being rattled.
Should she take the risk or should she stay with the
went for it. She did an excellent job and now she
is very comfortable facilitating meetings and
running creative brainstorming sessions. She added
a whole second story to her comfort zone!
TIPS for stretching
your comfort zone
Start small. Choose
something that doesn’t have a huge impact if it
doesn’t work as smoothly as you’d like. For
instance, ask a colleague whom you’ve wanted to
get to know to join you for lunch.
Set yourself up to succeed.
Put your anxious energy to work for you. For
example, if you are going to teach a topic
you’ve never presented before, spend extra time
preparing and rehearse for someone you feel safe
Build in ‘comfort’ controls.
If you’re uncomfortable delegating because you
are afraid someone won’t follow through, agree
ahead of time how they will communicate their
status and completion. Then let go.
Use the resources around
you. If you are taking on a challenging
assignment, ask someone who is familiar with the
work if they will look it over and make sure
you’ve hit the necessary points.
Stretching your comfort zone takes courage.
Reward yourself when you're willing to move into