Series entrepreneur | Founder of bonapp.eco | Philanthropist | Chief officer of the father.
Curiosity makes us evolve. It encourages us to step outside our comfort zones, push our boundaries and discover what we like and what we are good at. But should entrepreneurs stop stepping out of their comfort zone and focusing their energies on just a few things to focus their performance? I think the question is when to do that. Let’s dive into this.
A comfort zone is like a cozy psychological barrier. It is made of soft familiar pillows. You know how and when to flip them if they get too hot. I know you know the feeling.
In my opinion, people promote too few comfort zones. They think they don’t have evolution: thanks, Alasdair White. The British theorist argued that certain amounts of anxiety can actually help control performance in certain situations. I think this is a myth and comfort zones are also about control. I like control. The mastery of some things makes me a specialist in my field. Allow me to build this concept.
The Comfort Zone model
We can divide the comfort zone model into two zones. The first is the comfortable one, and the second is the pressure-related one, containing both an optimal play space – where a little fear goes a long way – and a dangerous panic area where evolution stops and fear begins.
To return to our conversation about pillows, if we traveled with our pillows all the time, we wouldn’t be able to evolve. Humans do not tend to grow when they are resting.
Growing up takes a little bit of risk and a little bit of overcoming fears and self-doubt. It’s about leaving your pillow at home, trying out others, and returning to your humble abode to appreciate or change what you have.
Using fear to grow
The British National Health Service (NHS) reveals that anxiety is “a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe”. One may worry about taking an exam or speaking in public, which is normal. But sometimes people freeze, get too anxious and don’t write anything on the exam paper, or choke when they go on stage.
To develop a comfort zone, entrepreneurs must step outside of it. Try, make mistakes and learn in the optimal performance area. Here our limits stretch a bit and we can get better. Then we can step back into our comfort zone and work with the new knowledge we gain before planning another upskilling or retraining journey.
Children juggle well with these three areas; they are masters of evolving every year. Once they’ve mastered a skill, like walking, they want to learn how to run and then stand on one leg. For them, the danger zone could be to start cycling if they don’t master all three phases above first. In this case, their anxiety would likely affect their performance. They will get scared, and most likely they will close and decide not to try to learn how to ride a bike at all.
Advocating for the comfort zone
With adults, there are dangers if they don’t return to their comfort zone after learning a new skill. I have experienced overstimulation and even burnout. The brain needs time to recharge and not end up in a dangerous area.
Like many entrepreneurs, I did a little bit of everything at the start of my journey. I dealt with areas ranging from operations to finance and from sales to HR. It was a mistake. I wasn’t Monet. I didn’t impress anyone.
Sales and HR, my passions, suffered as operations and finance frustrated and stressed me. Although I knew I could do it all, I didn’t enjoy doing it. It was overwhelming. It exhausted me. So I quit and devoted my time and energy to areas I enjoy, and this pushed me and gave me the space to excel.
Many business people say that to be successful you always have to get out of your comfort zone. But I think this is a myth or taken out of context. Yes, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone to evolve, but so is going back home to recharge and regroup.
The importance of investing
Like Steve Jobs once said, our time is limited. Now, after a few decades of getting out of my comfort zone, I know how to spend my business time: doing things I enjoy, so I’m 100% invested in learning, performing and growing. And I still go out and then return to my comfort zone. For example, writing is one of those outside endeavors.
I also learned that everyone’s comfort zone threshold is different. So we all need to know ourselves, set limits and share them with others. This way we can avoid the “fight or flight” reactions.
As with anything, communication is key. If you’ve already taken a journey outside of your comfort zone – let’s say in your personal life – you should give yourself some time before embarking on a new adventure in your professional life. And people need to know what stage you’re at so they don’t push you over the edge.
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