Everyone going down the road to making a living without a job immediately encounters a sign saying, “Exit Your Comfort Zone Now.” Not surprisingly, many would-be explorers turn around at that point and return to whatever cocoon they have left. Since many people dislike being uncomfortable—even temporarily—they never discover what’s on the other side of their discomfort.
Is it possible to live your dream and stay in your Comfort Zone? It doesn’t appear so. I’ve been unable to find a single instance where that’s been done. Even those who have achieved a large part of their dream are constantly having to stretch a bit farther by checking out the unfamiliar.
Last week, I stumbled upon a public television documentary about Andrea Bocelli. As you may know, the Italian tenor lost his eyesight at the age of 12, but his willingness to go outside his Comfort Zone remained. The program showed Bocelli in a number of sitiuations that most would consider challenging. Besides a passion for windsurfing and horseback riding, we also saw Bocelli skydive. But his bravado wasn’t confined to physical feats. After becoming an international sensation, he went after his lifelong dream of performing in opera.
But there’s a larger purpose at work in Bocelli’s life. At the end of the program, he said that his intention is to show people that no matter what horrible or sad things happen in our lives, there are still thousands of reasons to be joyful.
Stewart Emery once said, “Sometimes making a difference looks like making waves in the complacency of another.” It’s equally true that making a difference in our own lives often involves making waves in the comfort we’ve created for ourselves.
While life sometimes pushes us into situations that are outside our Comfort Zone, don’t wait for it to happen spontaneously. Every so often, purposely move into unknown territory. If you do, there will be times when you feel like the world’s biggest klutz. Don’t let that stop you. After all, the more frequently you leave your Comfort Zone, the more your horizons will expand.
Dr. Alan Gregg summed it up in his observation about the rewards of travel. “The main value of travel lies not in where you go, but in leaving where you have been. Go to a new place. Have your former gods challenged. Re-examine your axioms. Find out the evidence for your assumptions, and you will begin to set a true value upon the environment from which you came. I never tire of Sir Oliver Lodge’s way of saying this: ‘The last thing in the world that a deep-sea fish could discover is salt water.'”