I was having a discussion with someone the other day about comfort zones. And how regularly we put ourselves out of them. Initially I thought I was the type of person that rarely left my comfort zone, but as we talked more, I realised I left it all the time.
As a teenager, afraid of heights, I took on Spring Board Diving. Why the hell would I do that!?! At first I just thought it looked cool. And yeah I might be shaking like a leaf at the top of the board while I wait for the whistle to blow, but you get to do cool things with your body. So a little bit of discomfort and nervousness is worth it.
10 years later and still afraid of heights, I abseiled down a sky scraper in Perth CBD. Standing on the edge of a building with your back to the ground a good 200m below you, and the be-layer is just saying ‘step back and sit over the edge’ WHAT?!?!?! Sit over the edge of a BUILDING! But with the help of my team there with me, I (eventually) sat over the edge and very slowly lowed myself to the ground with maybe only a couple of tears on the way down.
Athletically, I have performed at a high level. And there is no doubt that to be successful in your chosen sport, you have to be willing to go to a deep dark place and push well outside of your comfort zone. I remember being at Nationals one year for the 10km freestyle and I got off to a slow start which was not uncommon for me, but I was a strong finisher. Closing in on 1.5km to go and I needed to start pulling away from my pack. That meant going up a gear and holding a quick pace for the last 20 minutes – I’m talking the type of pace people I would train with would hold for a couple of 100ms in the pool. I remember almost being in tears as I was pushing to catch and pass the couple of people ahead of me and get to the finish before them. Deep, Dark, Place.
Leaving your comfort zone helps you grow as a person. Having that difficult conversation, conquer a fear, starting out too hard in a workout knowing full well you are going to blow up and hold on anyway. This is where the magic happens. This is where you learn what you are truly capable of and if you fail you will know how to handle it better next time. So I challenge you to leave your comfort zone before the year is up. Commit to something that scares you a little because you never know what opportunities will open because of it.