Published on 2012/02/06

Bursting Out Of The Comfort Zone

Bursting Out Of The Comfort Zone
Every experience can be a learning experience, but it takes stepping outside personal comfort zones and experiencing new things. Photo by Katherine Stock.

“Do the thing you fear to do and keep doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” – Dale Carnegie

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – William Shakespeare

So how do you perceive learning? Textbooks, classes, a certain phase of your life that has come and gone or perhaps something you are either anticipating or possibly dreading? Think real deeply about your concept of learning, read the two above quotes again and then think about this. Learning is life long and EVERYWHERE; there is something to be learned from everyone and everything.

There is a concept that truly resonates deeply within me that I would like to share. It’s the concept of comfort and progress. In our comfort zone, we may be busy and there may be progress but with time, and usually sooner than later, progress grinds to a halt. When we step out of our comfort zone into the world of discomfort we observe the world through fresh eyes. Picture it: bright lights, new sounds, new people… so many new stimuli. May seem daunting, perhaps uncomfortable. Hmmm, what to do?

The only true answer is to get out there, take in the experience, observe and of course learn! It maybe obvious to some but learning radiates far outside the confines of the classroom and reads beyond textbooks… and even happens after the age of 22! Every experience we take in—good, bad, happy, sad, difficult, is learning—if you let it be. I firmly believe there is a lesson to be learned in most experiences, some more serious than others and others just outright silly and entertaining. But if you open yourself up to learning what is offered, you certainly take in many new lessons that can be applicable at some point in life. And that means progress!

As a personal trainer, I motivate and push my clients hard in the gym. I show them proper technique and help them find the discipline within to keep training and execute perfect technique every time. I guide them and motivate them to get those last few reps out or go for 30 more seconds. It is humbling and incredibly satisfying when I have clients show up and tell me that what they have learned in the gym has carried over into their personal lives. I had one client who, after losing over 10% body-fat and increasing their fitness considerably, told me how shocked she was that she was able to achieve and now do what she felt was an overly ambitious dream in the beginning. She continued by saying now that she achieved what she felt was impossible, she feels inspired and empowered to experience new things that she would have otherwise dismissed as too difficult or—as she put it—“for the pros”.

New-found confidence from pushing through self perceived pain and limitations, new inspirations and sometimes something as simple as just becoming more optimistic in daily life; small lessons—profound changes!

The learning doesn’t stop there, the lessons come back to me. I learn from my clients’ experiences and stories and their inspiration helps to mold me into a better trainer and better person. I’ll hit the books harder, apply a lesson learned from a client or sometimes I just catch myself doing something I typically wouldn’t do in a situation; and I think back to how one of my clients told me about this new discovery and adventure.

Learning truly never stops, it follows you wherever you go. It may not click right away but if you are aware of this idea, life truly does become the classroom, an experience and adventure –and a very insightful one at that! Here is something from Thomas Dewar that may shed more light on this “Minds are like parachutes, they only function when open” Makes sense to me.

So read those two quotes above again and see what comes up now. Tying into the above, realistically, stepping out into the unknown maybe difficult, even outright suck, because it is after all unfamiliar and had potential risk, but there is a solution to that:

If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Winston Churchill.

Learn, apply, learn and grow. It likely will be difficult in the beginning, but eventually we all want or need to progress in our lives, and that will likely involve one having to step out into unfamiliarity and take in the experiences. Keep your senses and mind open, focus and experience every moment; it builds character anyway!

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