Your Comfort Zone: Friend or Foe?

by Jason Kotecki on · 7 comments

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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

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and pro­fes­sional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a for­mer kinder­garten teacher) make it their mis­sion in life to fight Adul­ti­tis and help peo­ple use strate­gies from child­hood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
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