The Comfort Zone, is exactly what it sounds like, comfortable. But what can we do when comfortable becomes… less comfortable and more stale, stagnant and stuck? It can be difficult to shake things up. In this article, we will discuss two pitfalls of the “Comfort Zone” and how to break out of our shells and accomplish more than we imagined.
Fear of Feelings
Anxiety can be a crippling emotion if we are unable to transform it into motivation. Whenever I am trying something new, or sharing an idea at work, the fear starts to gnaw at my belly. Anxiety creeps in, I feel nauseous and my heart starts to race. I call this “the feels” and my natural inclination… avoid “the feels”, at all costs. One way I learned to work with this, is through something I say to my children when they feel afraid to try something new, I tell them:
“If you are never afraid, you never have the chance to be brave.”
One day, I realized that is darn good advice, that I had not been following. By avoiding “the feels” I was robbing myself of the opportunity to be brave. Take the feeling of anxiety and fear, and allow it the space it needs. While acknowledging that by taking this risk and feeling fear, you are allowing yourself the opportunity to be brave.
Fear of Judgment
Another reason the Comfort Zone is so comfortable, is because we are shielding ourselves from being judged by others. Especially in the workplace, it can be intimidating to put yourself out there with a new idea or to suggest a new way to do something.
What if you are wrong and people think you are foolish?
What if you are right and people think you are full of yourself?
What if you stutter or stumble or have broccoli from lunch stuck in your teeth?
It is much easier to stay at your desk and keep your head down. The best way I have found, for me, to combat my own fear of judgment is to encourage others when they make suggestions. To openly praise them for their bravery or good idea or for opening up a dialogue about making a process better. When I actively seek out reasons to praise others for bringing their ideas forward, I am creating a safe space not only for them, but for myself. I am modeling how I wish to be treated.
If this suggestion is a little too far out of your comfort zone, approach one or two people in the office with your idea and ask for feedback. Or you can approach your suggestion as an opening for more dialogue. Using language such as “I have been tinkering with an idea for _____________, has anyone else had any thoughts along those lines?” Then be open to suggestions and a conversation.
There are many reasons why we choose to stay in the Comfort Zone. The picture at the top of this article, is the very best reason to break out of the Comfort Zone. When we step outside of routine and the way things have always been done, magic happens. We create spaces that allow ourselves and our coworkers to be vulnerable. And to be praised for their bravery in doing so. We allow new ways of thinking to enter. From there, positive changes can begin to transform how we do business, how we feel about ourselves and our ideas.
“The most dangerous phrase in language, is ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ “
Written by: Gabbi Hruska, Title Examiner