We need to spend more time IN our comfort zones.

There, I said it.

In the self-improvement culture we live in, we're constantly advised to shore up our weaknesses and do things that are out of our comfort zone. It's apparently the magic path to success, riches, and enlightenment.

And I think it might be robbing the world of the best we have to offer.

Of course there is a pearl of wisdom in this adage. Trying new things is a great way to grow, build courage and collect wonderful experiences. But it also has the potential to lead us astray. Here are a few pitfalls:

It can trick us into thinking that we can be self-sufficient.

Its easy to get caught up believing that we can achieve anything, provided we're brave enough to step out of our comfort zone and take it. But we were designed to rely on each other. That means nobody is great at everything. Each person is great at some things, okay at most things, and terrible at others. Although it goes against the myth of the self-made hero, we're most efficient when we're using our strengths to help others achieve their goals while relying on other people's gifts to achieve ours.

It can subtly send the message that we're not good enough.

No matter how big our comfort zone is, it's always too small. There's ALWAYS something else we're afraid of, uncertain about, or uncomfortable with. I could spend all my time running on the treadmill of expanding my comfort zone, trying new experiences that scare me. I could go streaking. I could sky dive. I could eat snails. I could go deep sea diving and play pinochle with sharks. I'm sure I'd collect some cool stories, but at the end of the day, what have I built? What value have I added to the world?

It can downplay our strengths.

We have a level of comfort with the things we kick butt at. Give me a paintbrush, some tubes of paint, and a blank canvas, and I am in my comfort zone. Slide me under a car to change the oil…not so much. Sure, I could step out of my comfort zone and learn how to fix and maintain my own car. But try as I might, I'll never be more than a mediocre car mechanic. The world's all stocked up on mediocre, but it could always use more greatness.

I believe that we're called to be great. And the only way I know how to be great is to spend a LOT of time doing something you're already pretty good at. There are no shortcuts. Spending a lot of time expanding your comfort zone is an excellent way to collect stories, but it can also be distraction that keeps you from focusing on what it takes to become great.

I'm not convinced that the comfort zone is the enemy we sometimes make it out to be. Perhaps it's there to give us a clue as to how we should be really spending our time. Maybe we should actually be spending more time IN our comfort zones.

What do YOU think?

by Jason Kotecki


When my life was on the fritz, here's what I found when I looked under the hood…

I've always been the financial provider in my family, supporting my husband as he pursues his dream of writing the great American novel, but one day, I just wasn't happy with it any more.

I had noticed, too, that what I loved most about my work as a nurse midwife was talking with my patients about their hopes for their lives and their families. I realized that I was not only helping them give birth to their babies -­ I was helping them give birth to their dreams.

And then, four years ago, I had an epiphany. "These women need a midwife for their LIFE." And my personal coaching business was born. I built it while I continued to work the same hours at my hospital job.

It required me to work a lot of late nights and weekends, but when my clients told me that I had helped them accomplish dreams they had all but given up on, it made it all worth it. In fact, it became all I wanted to do.

And so my business grew a lot over its first two years, but not enough to support my family.

So I should've stayed at my hospital job, right?

But I couldn't do it.

I saw my friends being supported by their husbands as they pursued their creative dreams, and I looked at my husband, and I thought, "Why should they get to pursue their passions and I don't? When would it be my time?"

It made me feel jealous and powerless and taken advantage of, and I couldn't stand it. Yes, I want my husband to become the next JK Rowling, but I can't wait forever. I was using food and mediocre television to fill the void of wanting what I couldn't have, and that created more pain I didn't need.

And then, in February of 2011, I had another epiphany: I was coaching people to step out of their comfort zone, but I wasn't willing to step out of mine.

You know, I talk with people every day who dream of quitting their soul-sucking job to do work they truly love.

And I ask them what they're doing to achieve their dream and the answer almost always breaks my heart. There's a huge discrepancy between what they say they want to do and what they're actually doing.

That was me – and if that's you, if you're one of those people who don't know what your purpose is, OR you say you want to do your purpose-driven work, but you're not taking action to get you closer to whatever that is, then you probably feel like there's something wrong with you.

You probably think you're lazy or unmotivated. Maybe you think you don't want success that much, or that you are somehow broken.

Well, here's what you need to know and I want you to remember it:

There is nothing wrong with you.

You are not broken. You're not unmotivated. You're not lazy. And it's not hopeless.

Whether you know your purpose or not, I have learned from my life and from my clients' experiences that the pain you feel as you compare your life to your dreams comes from having tried to achieve those dreams-and having failed.

You may have tried multiple times; you may have given your dreams varying degrees of time and effort. But all the other demands on you made you lose focus, or you met with a barrier that seemed insurmountable, and it didn't work out. And when you think of trying again it hurts too much.

But here's the thing: You're in pain now. And re-engaging with your dreams may hurt even more-for a while. But it won't hurt for as long as you think it will.

And the only way to make the hurt go away is to start now.

The REASON that you HURT when you think, "Who am I to want more? Why can't I be happy with what I've got?" is because, quite simply, it is NOT TRUE that you shouldn't want more and that you CAN be happy with what you've got.

You are here to give so much more and it is a disservice to your God-given talent not to. And that's why it hurts. Because you are betraying yourself and your purpose.

OK, if I haven't scared you off or offended you, and you're still with me, you KNOW you have something more to offer, something really great, but you just don't know how to get it out in the world.

Here's what I want you to know: a breakdown is ALWAYS followed by a breakthrough. It's always darkest before the dawn, you know?

And it's actually Universal Law – you WOULD NOT be given the challenge without the opportunity for healing it, right in front of you.

That's what I realized back in February of 2011.

I knew that I didn't want to stay on staff at the hospital , but I believed that our family needed the "security" that my job provided. I thought my coaching business and writing career could support us, but I had no guarantees…which led me back to wondering why I couldn't just be happy with my job at the hospital.

It wasn't that bad, was it??

Those stressful thoughts are what led to my breakdown – and my breakthrough. I couldn't believe I was in such a bad place – overwhelmed by doomsday scenarios and too scared to think straight.

But along with all the dark fears, I'd also get a moment of clarity when I knew I should give up my staff position. BUT then the moment would pass and my heart would start racing again and I would be in tears thinking that I couldn't possibly leave.

And then I would get another flash of insight. It was like I was walking on a dark road and every once in a while a car would go by and its headlights would illuminate the path and show some sign, like a guidepost, and I would know again that I was on the right track. But the insights and the clarity always seemed so fleeting.

I would get them and almost immediately I'd be back in the land of fear and despair.

I couldn't believe that I was in such an undesirable, untenable position. I couldn't believe that I had been brought this far to fail. All I kept thinking was about what I didn't want. At some point in the depths of that despair, I heard a small voice inside that said, "What do you want?"

As soon as I got clear on what I wanted, I received a gift in the form of a thought-a thought I want to share with you: I don't know what the future holds, but I know I can figure this out. I will figure out how I can do what I love and support my family. No matter what .

It's now been over 2 years since I stepped waaayyy out of my comfort zone and quit my hospital job. While it hasn't been easy, it has been possible for me to support my family from doing work I love.

What's possible for you when you replace, "I can't do it." with "How could I do it?"

Please let me know in the comments below!

by Stacey Curnow


The other day my four-year-old daughter Lucy was skimming down the sidewalk with her kick scooter.


She was gripping the handlebar with one hand and holding an open umbrella with the other. While wearing a bike helmet and snow boots. On a sunny, seventy-three degree day.


It's so weird that I'd bet anything that of the six billion plus people in the world, not one other person was doing and wearing the exact same thing. That's as weird as it gets.

It was also a great big life lesson.

You see, in Lucy's head, there was nothing weird about it. She was in the moment, free of pretense, and free of shame. She was living life the way it was meant to be lived.

Oh how I wish I could be that free again.

In fact, we all were, in the beginning. But eventually someone sees us living our bliss, decides it's weird, and shames us. We get made fun of in the schoolyard, on the bus, or across the diner table. For the first time, it occurs to us that some of the things we do might be looked upon with contempt by another person.

From then on, we start paying attention. We start noticing what's "in" and what's not. We take heed of the the things that could get us ridiculed, singled out, and shamed. And we stop doing those things. We smooth out the rough edges and start hiding our weirdness. And one by one, little parts of us die.

It's quite possibly the greatest tragedy of our lives, as we end up spending most of it conforming to the world around us, all to avoid that feeling of shame ever again.

Once in a while, you'll see an elderly person who quit buying in. They're livin' la vida loca, carefree and without reservation. On the surface, it's easy to write them off as possibly experiencing early-stage dementia. But if you look closer, you'd see that they have all their wits about them. They've just decided it was too expensive to pay attention to what everyone else thought, so they stopped trying to hide their weirdness.

They discovered that people only have the power to shame us if we give it to them.

Well I don't want to wait till I'm seventy to embrace that truth. I want to live my life like Lucy: free, in the moment, and gloriously weird.

Won't you join me?

by Jason Kotecki

Stacey with Turkeys

Back in 2002, when I took my job with Doctors Without Borders in Mexico I had to pack up my comfortable life in the United States and move to a part of the world that had no running water or electricity.

To an area where there was centuries-long, deep-seated conflict between the indigenous people and the Mexican government. To do a job for which I had no experience.

It was definitely the weirdest thing I had ever done. I had no real idea what I was doing. But I believed I would figure out a way to do it.

I've learned that what looks "weird" to other people, feels like excitement to me. I've learned that it's the wisdom of the world speaking through me. And trusting the wisdom feels like a huge leap of faith.

So I've learned to leap. Before the voices of self-doubt keep me stuck. Once a leap has been taken, or a path has been selected, momentum takes over and there is little time to indulge self-doubt or fear because there's work to be done. So you get on with it.

But here's the really cool thing. You take the leap and do the work, but you're not doing it alone. The Universe also starts to conspire on your behalf. You don't have to take my word for it. Listen to what WH Murray, a Scottish mountaineer and author of The Scottish Himalayan Experience:

This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence: Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

It wasn't until I was sitting in the airport in Amsterdam (where the Doctors Without Borders headquarters of my project was located), about to board my flight to Mexico City that I suddenly wondered whether I would actually be able to adjust to life in such a foreign environment. (Did I mention there would be no electricity or running water?)

Would I really be able to do the job I'd signed on to do? But even in that weird and wobbly moment, I knew that I would find a way to manage.


Why was I so certain?

There are lots of reasons. And none of them are because I'm braver, more talented, or smarter than you. Because I'm not. I promise.

I'm scared of public speaking, and parties of people I don't know, and difficult conversations or phone calls.

But despite my very ordinary fears, over the years enough people have asked me where I find the courage to make my bold choices, that I've come to see that although we are all inherently brave, some of us forget how brave we can be.

I've come to see that my path through life has equipped me with certain tools that help me make the daily decisions that add up to a courageous life.

I can see how my experiences have taught me to have faith that everything will be okay, and most importantly that even when everything is not okay, everything is actually okay.

I've been getting really curious lately about how I came to acquire those tools, because I want to share them with you. Because I want to offer them to anyone whose self-doubt is getting in the way of their good work in the world.

One of the things I've learned about courage is that we can "positively reinforce" our own courageous choices by taking time to notice them, recognize them and actually give ourselves some credit for them.

So today – please take five minutes to give yourself the credit for how weird and courageous you are.

And then make a habit of stopping to notice the small (and large) ways you are embracing your weirdness and choosing courage every day, and of giving yourself credit for it. If it helps, you can imagine you are talking to a good friend: How would you tell or show her how proud you are of her weirdness and courage?

Now, tell or show yourself how proud you are of your own willingness to be weird.

by Stacey Curnow

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