Ahhhhh! Make the Donald stop growing!
“If we’re growing, then we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”
In this post I’m going to be talking about an overall philosophy that I do my best to live on a daily basis. If you didn’t already figure out what it is from the title, I call it the “Growth Mentality.” The Growth Mentality is very simple and it can and should be applied to every aspect of your life. I define it as: constantly moving forward and looking for progress at all times. In other words, setting goals and resetting them as we approach them. What I normally see are people setting goals and then allowing them to become limits for their lives. When they reach a goal they either plateau and stay at that plateau or actually regress. I see this often with weight loss. A person sets a goal to be at a certain weight at a certain time (think a bride to be losing weight to fit into a specific sized wedding dress here) and upon hitting that weight they regress back to their old habits and gain all the weight back quicker than the amount of time it took them to lose it. In my opinion this just plain sucks…So let’s move pass this situation and make change!
To do so we need to first examine why we fail to live by this philosophy and how we can change and adapt so that the Growth Mentality becomes a part of us.
Why we fail; To illustrate this, I’m going to refer to one of the core teachings from my favorite master in human relations Dale Carnegie; the “Comfort Zone.”
Comfort Zone is defined in Wikipedia by Alasdair A. K. White as the following;
'The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk (White 2009). A person’s personality can be described by his or her comfort zones. Highly successful persons may routinely step outside their comfort zones, to accomplish what they wish. A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries. Such boundaries create an unfounded sense of security. Like inertia, a person who has established a comfort zone in a particular axis of his or her life, will tend to stay within that zone without stepping outside of it. To step outside a person’s comfort zone, they must experiment with new and different behaviors, and then experience the new and different responses that then occur within their environment.'
I really like this definition. Notice that a comfort zone is described as a “mental conditioning” which means it exists within us and not outside of us. Anything that exists within us we have the power to change…Wait…Let me repeat that…Anything that exists within us we have the power to change. That’s exciting news! So let’s delve deeper. If we have the power to change, then why don’t we change?
To step out of the comfort zone raises the anxiety level engendering a stress response, the result of which is an enhanced level of concentration and focus. White (2009) refers to this as the Optimal Performance Zone – a zone in which the performance of a person can be enhanced and in which their skills can be optimized. However, White (2009) also observes that if the work of Robert Yerkes (1907) is considered in which he reported ‘Anxiety improves performance…
So according to White and Yerkes, stepping out of our comfort zone raises performance. Wow! I still can’t imagine why on earth we wouldn’t always operate outside of our comfort zone!?…Oh wait, there’s more to this story.
(Continued from above)…until a certain optimum level of arousal has been reached. Beyond that point, performance deteriorates as higher levels of anxiety are attained’, if a person steps beyond the optimum performance zone they enter a “danger zone” in which performance will decline rapidly as higher levels of anxiety or discomfort occur.'
In terms of performance management or development, the objective of the trainer or manager is to cause the person to enter the optimum performance zone for a sufficient period of time so that new skills and performance can be achieved and become embedded. The same reasoning is used with goal setting: change the anxiety level and the performance will change. (However, in performance terms, the term incentive is used to describe the process of changing the anxiety level – an incentive being anything that causes a change in behaviour.)
Ahhhh yes now we see the truth. When we step out of comfort zone too much or overcompensate, we experience too much anxiety and perform worse. Or, as we typically define it, we FAIL (AHHHH! What a scary word! Ha!).
So in order to maximize this mentality we must learn to find the balance and enable ourselves to figure out how to take BABY STEPS out of our comfort zone towards our goals. Here are some action steps you can take to work on this yourself.
1. Define the goal or behavior you are trying to reach/change
2. Identify why it is causes you anxiety to take action
3. Identify what will happen if you NEVER take action
4. Identify the WORST possible result of taking the action
5. Identify if you can live with the worst happening (if it’s anything other than death, guess what, you can probably live with it!)
6. Identify the BEST possible result of taking the action
7. List out the BABY STEPS to reach the goal/change the behavior
8. TAKE ACTION!
Hope this helps guys!
“To maximize our potential, we must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
To learn more about Comfort Zone and to read a book that should be an ABSOLUTE MUST READ for every human being on the planet, check out: