DrFacilier-kotecki

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

hiker

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

brake-molds

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

Nor­mal.

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.

Weird.

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?

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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