Have you ever walked into a room when you could feel everyone looking at you? You just knew that for some reason, you stood out? Maybe you were wearing bright clothes. Maybe you didn’t have the best hair day. That unmistakable uneasy feeling finds its way into our stomachs to let us know something is off.
As unnerving as they are, these moments stretch our comfort zones. They enable us to grow. Every time we do something out of the ordinary, we evolve. I started learning this concept at a very early age.
Much of my life has taken place outside of my comfort zone. Learning the limitations of my eyesight certainly felt uncomfortable. In addition to these physical situations that arose, there were countless social situations that also drew me outside of my comfort zone.
It’s one thing to walk into a conference room with bright clothing, but it’s another thing to walk into that same conference room with a 100-pound German shepherd. There aren’t very many shepherds in conference rooms, so it’s a safe bet we’re grabbing attention.
At first this was uncomfortable. Some of the conversations I engaged in were uncomfortable, but soon, I learned how to manage them, and even disarm the discomfort while turning Sarge into a tremendous conversational ally. The regular conference room encounters quickly became comfortable. So, when cross-cultural encounters presented themselves I was more prepared to handle these initially uncomfortable situations.
Over time, my comfort zone began to expand, providing me a strong foundation for self-confidence, a sense of ease, and crucially, a behavior pattern that allows me to continually grow. By getting comfortable with being outside of my comfort zone, I create the environment for progress. How comfortable are you with discomfort? What are some of the things you do to stay uncomfortable?