Stepping out of the comfort zone – literally

My daughter took her first, unassisted steps last week. At 2 ½ years, this was an extra special moment for us. Ella has a slight delay in her left side, so she’s a bit “behind the curve” in some of her development. We like to say that she’s on “Ella Time.” Of course, Ella Time doesn’t always align perfectly with Mommy and Daddy time. So when she decided it was time to walk, the sweetness of the moment – watching her take those first tentative steps across the room – was incredible. My proud daddy heart nearly burst open.

But I’m not here to bore you with my proud daddy moments. Nope. I’m here to offer you thoughts and observations that might come in handy on your evolutionary journey. And I’m sure you’re wondering how Ella’s first steps might do that? Well, it’s not actually the steps that I want to focus on; rather, it’s what has happened since those first steps.

Clearly, Ella can walk. She knows that she can get from one place to another in an upright position, without holding on to anything or anyone. But since those first steps, she has been extremely reticent to do so. She still loves to “wah,” but she still wants something to hold onto. She’ll walk around and around the dining room table holding on to the edge. She’ll walk from chair to chair. She’ll walk pushing her cart. She’ll walk from one object to another. But when she comes to a space where there’s nothing to hold onto, she’ll drop down and crawl or skootch her way to her destination.

Ella is at the edge of her comfort zone. And every time she takes a step on her own, she is, literally, stepping out of that comfort zone.

The other day, my wife and I were playing with Ella, encouraging her to walk back and forth between the two of us. As she took off from Melissa, Ella would take a few steps towards me, eyes open, confident, and then the fear would come. She’d close her eyes and stumble forward blindly into my outstretched arms and we’d both roll back onto the floor in a pile of giggles. The laughter and fun encouraged her to continue, to push through her fear, but it was clear that she was stepping into territory that was uncomfortable for her. She was stepping into an unknown and unsafe place.

Her hesitance to do this thing that she clearly can do and clearly wants to do has given me the opportunity to explore the places in my own life where I am “working the edges” of my comfort zone, the places where I have been unwilling to step out of my comfort zone and into a new experience or awareness.

We all have our comfort zones, and, at any given time, we tend to have specific areas where we are actively “working the edges.”

One of the edges that I am working is my relationship with money. Until recently, my comfort zone with money could best be described as “just enough.” I’ve managed to get by financially, but never a whole lot more than that. Just enough is comfortable for me. (I’m not going to get into the whys and wherefores in this article, perhaps in a future edition).

Moving out of my financial comfort zone is taking a step from surviving to thriving, from just enough to abundance. Sounds simple and attractive enough, but just as I see the fear in Ella’s eyes when she comes to a gap between two chairs, that step for me into financial abundance feels like a giant leap over a gaping chasm with a roaring river crashing three hundred feet below. (Ok, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but you get the idea!)

As an outside observer, I can watch Ella and think, “She wants to walk. She knows how to walk. Why doesn’t she just walk?” But for her, the internal process is quite a bit more complicated than that.

And so it is for each of us as well.

Fortunately, there are effective tools to help us move out of our comfort zone. And one of the most effective tools is the simplest: awareness.

Most people work the edges in a state of unawareness. The edges show up in our lives in unexpected and usually unpleasant ways. But by discovering the edges that you are working, and focusing your attention upon those edges, you take back a measure of control over the pace and the manner at which you can work the edge.

What edges are you working? Where are you feeling the resistance of your comfort zone? What changes do you say want in your life but are having trouble creating?

See if you can clearly define one or more of the edges you are working. The more clear you are the easier it will be for you to take steps out of that comfort zone and into a new, more expansive expression of who you are!

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      6 Responses to “Stepping out of the comfort zone – literally”

      1. Michele Pardee on March 30th, 2006 8:53 am

        Edward,

        As you and I have discussed, I am moving forward with my career as an Interior Designer. I am pushing my “edge” as far as advertising and getting my name out there so more counties and people see my business name. I have found that although referrals are nice and I appreciate every last one, I need to get out there and expand my horizons.
        I have just signed contracts with 4 counties for my advertising blitz. I know that if they don’t work, I will be in a financial “crunch”.
        The other night I sat up after my husband had gone to sleep, and sat on the sofa and did some thinking. Its really a “catch 22”. If I don’t take the risk of advertising, then noone will know I’m out there. If I play it safe, then my business will be the same and I will never know if advertising will work. I have been asking clients “how did you hear about me?”
        A lot of them say The Yellow pages. Then I ask, ” I know there are a lot of Interior Designers out there, why did you choose my number to call?”
        And guess what their reply was? You have a slogan that really caught my eye. “Creative Elegance at Affordable Prices”.
        They were afraid to hire a designer because of the cost,yet felt as though they would get value through my slogan.
        That was the first thing I requested when putting in the ads. “You must put the slogan in, it seems to work.”
        So this year I am on the edge and taking the chance that advertising will work for me. It is a little scary….but with no risks, I will still be in my “comfort zone” and earning the same as before.
        Michele Pardee

      2. ed on July 11th, 2006 11:59 am

        Hi Michele

        I’m glad that you are stepping out of your comfort zone. I would encourage you to shift your focus – as much as possible – from the potential “financial crunch” to the feelings that come from working with great clients that who want “Creative Elegance at Affordable Prices.”

        How does it feel when you work with great clients and help them create a beautiful, elegant home at an affordable price? That’s the feeling to hold onto throughout this process.

        Yes, it’s scary stepping out of your comfort zone, but I know that you can do it, and that you’ll be full of joy and fulfillment on the other side.

        Take care
        ed

      3. Evolving Times » Stretching Your Comfort Zone Fuels Your Doubts on August 2nd, 2007 10:21 am

        […] to my thoughts when I’m not paying attention. This is especially true when I’m moving out of my comfort zone and into unknown […]

      4. Bruce on August 5th, 2007 7:25 am

        michelle,
        find a local radio station that would like to PAY you to do a 15 or 30 minute show on Sunday morning or whenever!!!

      5. Frank Malina on March 15th, 2008 8:07 am

        I am stepping out of my comfort zone too. Thank you for this article

      6. Andrew Freddy on October 15th, 2008 9:16 am

        i’ve recently get a job as a supervisor in an establish retail company and my job is to supervise five people under me. This job is way from my comfort zone, because i like and used to work under supervision and i don’t like to supervise and giving instruction to people.

        I don’t have any experience in handling or supervise people under me,and im bad in giving instruction to people. To make matters worst, three of the workers who was assign under me has been working in the company for a period of time. They are more experience in handling things in our department. I don’t know how to give instruction to these three person because since their much senior than me, and at the same time im new in this field, im like ‘a baby lion giving instruction to a bunch of big lion’. Sorry for the analogy but i don’t have any example to give as an analogy.

        In your opinion, what should i do to make me more confident in facing this challenges? By the way i’m from Malaysia.

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