Yesterday I posted a link to a great article outlining eight keys to success. One of the keys was the ability to accept a risk.
In the article the author said, "I do not know anyone who has succeeded who has not been able to assess and take a risk and then live with the consequence - success or failure. Risk avoidance is a sure way to remain mediocre; being safe does not promote personal growth."
I also know - both from personal experience and seeing the experience of others - that that's often easier said than done.
After reading that article, I went off in search of some resources on learning to take risks and ran across this article. As the author explores the idea of taking risks, she breaks our experience into three separate zones - the comfort zone, the learning zone, and the anxiety zone.
The comfort zone is what you know and are comfortable with. The learning zone challenges you and takes you out of the known. And the anxiety zone renders you immobile because it's just too much.
That's a great way to think about it. I've noticed a tendency for people to see things in terms of only two zones - comfort and anxiety. "Either I'm in the comfort zone, or my world is at risk of imploding." And that's what keeps them stuck.
The comfort zone is a great place to stop and catch your breath, but if you stay there too long stagnation and mediocrity are the inevitable outcome. It provides a foundation, a home base for your next venture into the learning zone.
As with so much of the work I do with people, conscious awareness is a vital piece of the puzzle. Once you're consciously aware of something, you can start making choices, and that puts you in control.
Spend some time getting to know your zones. First, ask yourself what you're completely comfortable with. What can you do with your eyes closed? Then start brainstorming ideas for things you'd like to try - big and small - that would take you out of your comfort zone.
For each of those things, ask yourself where they belong, in the learning zone or the anxiety zone. If you're not sure where something belongs, ask yourself, "What steps could I take or what systems could I put in place that would make this seem more do-able?" Having a better feel for how to do it could be the difference between anxiety and learning.
Sorting the non-comfort-zone list will do two things. First, it will help you see that it's not just either comfort or anxiety. It will help you get a feel for both what seems challenging but do-able and what strikes terror into the heart.
And second, it will give you a starting point for your ventures into the learning zone. Pick something from the learning zone list and start dipping your toe in the water. It doesn't have to be big. The key right now is to just start practicing stepping outside the comfort zone.
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM