You hear over and over that in order to be successful at anything, you need to get out of your comfort zone. That's not true. We do the best when we are in our comfort zone and we do the worst when we're out of our comfort zone.
One time at my school, the principal was out for that day. We didn't have an assistant principal, so the office manager had to take on the role as principal. She told me, "I am definitely out of my comfort zone! I like to type!"
And guess what? She was AMAZING as an office manager where all she did was type, file, make copies, make phone calls, etc. She never signed up to be an administrator, so why ask her to do a job that she's not good at instead of letting her do a job that she is good at?
When she went out of town for a week, we teachers thought that the school would fall apart! Her contribution to the school was absolutely crucial, but all she did was take care of the work that nobody else cared to do: clerical stuff.
She thrived as an office manager. Her gift is doing things behind the scenes. There should be no reason for her to get out of her comfort zone -- that is, she should stick with what she knows best.
Would it surprise you that I always quit or never returned to jobs that were out of my comfort zone? Here's my list:
- Food service in college: quit two times
- Apartment inspector: quit before assignment was done
- Account manager at Rent-A-Center: quit
- Emergency Medical Services (New York): quit
- Emergency Medical Services (Carolina): dropped down to part-time, and then laid off for no cause...but never went back to EMS
- School teacher in New York: quit
- School teacher in Carolina: not returning after Summer
But here are the jobs that I've actually kept because they were all part-time and I was good at every one:
- Sales associate at Macy's in New York: lasted for two years until I had to move to Carolina
- CPR instructor: doing this for 8 years and counting
- Group fitness instructor: still doing it after 4 years
I THRIVE when I am in my comfort zone, when I am in the place where I know best. But put me in a place that I don't know, then I'll be stressed!
Comfort zones have such a negative image. We think about sitting on the couch being lazy. But that's not the case. Comfort zone is where you could be your best!
Here's another thing about comfort zones: you'll always thrive as long as you're in that zone.
At the gym, there are two types of people: those who thrive when they are taking a class and those who thrive when they are working alone. It's rare to see people thriving in both areas -- well, at least I think so.
For me, I thrive the BEST when I am in a group setting. For YEARS I've tried working out on my own, but I would always get side-tracked. When I started taking group fitness classes, that was when I started getting the muscles, getting the high stamina, slimming down, etc.
I thrive the BEST...
- In the middle of the day to the early evening
- When I'm teaching adults
- When I don't feel rushed
- When I am allowed to use creativity
- When I'm not working with other people
- When I could do things my own way
I do my WORST...
- Early morning or late evening
- Teaching kids in an institutionalized setting
- When I'm rushed or do things at the last minute
- When I can't use my creativity
- When I'm working with other people on a project
- When I can't do my own thing
When I am in my comfort zone, I do amazing! Force me out of my comfort zone, and I'll wither away like flower whose roots were cut off!
But, here's the thing about comfort zones: you may not be using it to thrive. You might be using your comfort zone to wither away.
For instance, you love to relax in front of the T.V. Well, are you watching mindless sitcoms or are you watching something that would educate you?
You get your most creative ideas at night. Are you actually using that time to come up with future plans for your life, or are you on Facebook?
You love to work out in a group setting. Are you actually working hard, or are you just going through the motions?
Or, you love to work out alone. Are you actually trying to improve your fitness or are you just doing stuff that's easy?
This is where comfort zones could hurt you. When you're in your comfort zone, you should use this place to THRIVE, to improve who you are, to do things that you've never done before. Your comfort zone shouldn't be a place to hide and slack off.
So, the next time you think about comfort zones, think about thriving. You only thrive when you're COMFORTABLE, not when you're stressed. In world history, nations have only become prosperous when they weren't at war and when the people were united as a nation. No country has become prosperous during times of unrest.
In the same way, YOU cannot thrive when you're in a state or unrest. If you're doing anything that is absolutely stressful, then you're in the wrong place. If you're doing anything that gives you peace, then you're in the right place -- now use that place to INCREASE yourself.