Out of Your Comfort Zone

Out of Your Comfort Zone:

(Click for Audio Version)

We’ve heard this way too often.

It’s been personal and often directed at self, and even said to self, by self. “It’s time to get out of your comfort zone. Step up. Step out. Step forward.”

What is this nebulous Comfort Zone?

From all my research, which includes personal experience, it is essentially that place you feel the most comfort at. You know, no stress, no anxiety, no worries…and probably nothing exciting going on. It’s like sitting in that same comfortable chair at the end of your day. Relaxed into something familiar. Eating the same familiar food. Having the same non-threatening conversation. Reading the same genre of books. Watching re-runs because there’s nothing new worth watching.

How do you grow in this Comfort Zone?

You don’t. Essentially, you stagnate into a place where the world leaves you as it moves forward. Suddenly you find yourself alone and incapable of connecting with all those you once knew. Why? Everyone else kept moving along the path of life and you didn’t.

My bride and I, along with my brother and his wife, flew in to a somewhat remote fishing cabin on a creek across the inlet from Anchorage, AK. Somewhat remote, you may ask? Well, give us a couple of months hiking and we could make it back to civilization. So, yes. Somewhat remote. As the plane flew off, suddenly, I felt all alone. Even with family, the feeling of isolation set in and I realized that disaster could strike in the camp, or back at home, and there would be nothing we could do about it. No telephone. No telegraph. No radio. No knowledge of the world outside of the fishing camp.

We had left our Comfort Zone and the feeling was none too great. A little scary.

We had chosen a destination, made preparations, stepped off the edge into the unknown…and as long as nothing happened we would never reach that total discomfited place called the Panic Zone!

Think about it for a moment. Leaving your Comfort Zone in stages moves you into what some will call the Learning Zone. What happens as you Learn? You broaden your horizons and your sphere widens. That next larger sphere where you are constantly Learning is the way to move out of your Comfort Zone with success!

Here’s My Thought: Some will call it baby steps. Dave Ramsey does in his Financial Peace University training to help millions control their financial picture. Baby steps. Test the waters. Try this first. Make a splash. Find small successes that lead to greater successes.

When learning to swim as a tyke, the life guard had us sitting on the edge of the pool with our feet in the water, learning to kick so we could learn that we could produce momentum. Then, into the shallow end where our feet could touch bottom, learning to float, then kick, all the while holding on to the security blanket of the edge of the pool. 

What was this process? Baby steps. Learning a little bit at a time so as to not overwhelm the senses. By the end of the season, we were swimming like fish desperate for water. My siblings and I were all made for the water experience! We just needed to learn how best to get into the deep end!

Good teaching, training and self motivation helps with this process. Someone needs to be the example and teacher, but you have to motivate yourself past the fear, or panic zone. Push the envelope.

Jesus did this with his disciples. What’s a disciple? Someone in training as a scholar to learn the ropes and tenants of someone, or something. He begins to send them out in pairs to test the waters of their knowledge.

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. (Mark 6:7 NKJV)

They did not go alone, but were partnered with another trainee. It’s easier to stand up to the challenges when you do with another who is as committed as you are to become what you are aiming for.

Remember Driver’s Education? In High School we did it with our instructor (a football coach) and two other students. We all received the same driving lesson while rotating the responsibility of driving between us. It was easier, cost effective and very telling about another persons road skills and how they react in situations.

When learning to pilot a plane I was alone with the instructor. It was a two-seated Cessna 152. No room for anyone else. But immediately into the training process I was the PIC (Pilot in Command) doing the job of flying while the flight instructor coached me through every move. From take off’s to landing! I was flying from that very first lesson!

Where am I going with this? Just like the Wizard of Oz, I realize that we all need affirmation for what’s missing in our lives and a reward for what we’ve accomplished. Remember? The Tin Man needed a heart (ticking clock), the Scarecrow needed a brain (diploma), and the Lion desperately needed bravery (medal). Each received a token of their accomplishment. Something to show off, brag about, and use to build their confidence for their next step.

Well. The result of Driver’s Ed was a Texas Driving License ( I still remember the number!), the flying lesson was a Pilot’s License, and the swimming lessons? Well, we received badges to sew on our trunks, and the opportunity to be used to teach the younger kids how to get their feet wet just like we did our first time. To this day I know how to swim like a fish and am very comfortable in water, no matter the depth!

Here’s the challenge for the church, however. We are too often satisfied with simply staying in our Comfort Zone that we planted ourselves in a generation ago. “Nothing new for me, thank you very much! I’ll stay just where I am…” No new songs. No new messages. No new building. Nothing new. Let’s just keep things the same as they were a generation ago.

What’s the problem with this? The world has changed. What we once did will no longer be as effective as it was a few decades ago. Do we toss off our heritage and adapt completely? No. That would be like saying the bible is no longer relevant and we need a new bible to match the new world. How do we adapt? Well, come to church one Sunday and find out. Every church is adapting in one way or another.

I say it’s time to leave our Comfort Zone.