Kicking the comfort

Only when we give up the security of the known, can we discover the unknown.

A bucket of water doused Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates out of their comfort zones for a social cause. But, if an ice bucket does not invigorate your body and soul, try bungee jumping, hand gliding or running a marathon. Experiment with cooking an  exotic recipe that may tempt you out of your comfort zone, too.

Sujatha, my colleague at office walked late into the office one day looking agitated. Returning from a parent-teacher meeting, she said that her teenage son hadn’t been performing well in school  and had been disinterested in his school work. She continued that there has been tell-tale at home too – a messy room, dishevelled hair, ever-changing sleeping habits, spending hours on his mobile, web browsing, game consoles and a busy social calender. Ear phones had practically become a part of his ears. Sujatha had remained in her parental comfort zone thinking her son was just passing through a teenage phase.

She went on to set rules and placed him under some restrictions, which in itself was an exercise. It made her uncomfortable but eventually both could sit across the table and establish some middle ground. Her son performed reasonably well for his potential in school.

Parenting is a conscious process of guiding, mentoring and connecting with our children to inculcate the very life-skills that help them become the kind of adults we hope they will. Raising children involves venturing out of our comfort zone on a regular basis but aren’t there other such areas in our daily lives too? Work, home, travel, relationships, and sports too.

I recollect that once, while training for a marathon, the coach made us do hill repetitions and high intensity workouts very often. Upon questioning, he said that discomfort was, indeed, the objective of the work out and the capacity to tolerate discomfort is as critical to success in endurance running as were the various components of physical fitness. The pain and high intensity fatigue in these workouts actually made the running more bearable. for me. Paradoxically, by moving out of a small comfort zone, one becomes part of a larger comfort zone.

A man once asked a sculptor, “How do you make such beautiful idols from stone?” He replied, “Idols and images are already hidden there. I remove the unwanted stone only.” True, comfort zones are there to protect us, but over time we feel overwhelmed and trapped by them. Perhaps, it is time to stretch those limits a little. Next time when you really wanted to do something , do not hesitate – go for it! The reward will be, without question, worth all the effort.

Philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “With the past I have nothing to do; nor with the future.I live now.” Only when we give up the emotional security of the known, can we create new opportunities, build capabilities and grow.

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