A little phrase with a big meaning.
For some this means being focused on what they are doing or working to achieve – especially in sport, but in business as well.
But it has other meanings.
If you live in the Transport for London area the ‘zone’ you live on can have a significant bearing on your public transport costs.
But that’s not what I’m thinking of here.
The ‘Zone’ I’m interested in is your ‘Comfort Zone’.
Or as my friend Phil Olley puts it, your ‘Comfort Dome’, which usefully adds a further dimension to the concept.
I have been talking about change.
But change does not only happen when you venture outside your zone, dome or sphere of ‘comfort’.
It happens inside as well – especially when it is brought about by ‘circumstances beyond your control’ or by other people.
When the ‘rules’ change.
The ‘comfort zone’ is what most people look on as a sort of ‘dome of protection’.
Whatever happens within the zone, it’s ‘safer’ inside than outside.
It’s more predictable.
Note entirely predictable but there’s much less uncertainty than people imagine to be the case outside.
It’s more familiar.
Not entirely familiar but less unfamiliar that what might happen outside.
Within the zone itself the levels of certainty and familiarity increase as you approach the ‘central core’ of your comfort zone.
Where you feel ‘safe’ – or most safe.
There have been some interesting reports from Japan that elderly people without families have been getting themselves arrested and imprisoned.
Because ‘inside’ it’s safe, and there is a ‘captive audience’ or community for them to associate with.
Everything is ‘laid on’ – and it’s a lot cheaper than a care home.
In that sense our comfort zone – our ‘dome of protection’ is not unlike a prison in which we have chosen to confine ourselves.
And that’s often the case within society as well.
Like the crabs in the bucket, if anyone tries to escape, they are pulled back in again.
We are actively discouraged from doing something different, from abandoning or questioning the ‘norm’ and from going too close to the ‘edge’.
It’s a ‘flat earth’ mentality.
We might ‘fall off’ and even worse, we might take others with us.
And that would never do!
Because whatever society people live in, they think they are the ‘best’ or that they have it ‘right’ as opposed to other societies.
And usually that ‘God’ is on their side.
(Failing to understand that ‘God’, Source, the Universe doesn’t and cannot ‘take sides’.)
If someone were to ‘escape’ and do something ‘different’, that could constitute a threat – a concept adequately demonstrated by the Soviet regime of the 20th century.
But if we are to evolve and grow – from an individual, societal or even humanistic point of view we need to do two things.
First to realise that we, as individuals, as a society, as the human race, have not reached our full potential, and second, we have to take the first step by approaching the ‘edge’.
The ‘edge’ of our sphere, dome or zone of ‘comfort’.
But what happens when we do approach the edge and put a foot outside the imagined ‘barrier’ – outside the ‘protected area’?
Sometimes we can get a little way into ‘new territory’ and begin to become familiar with it and more certain about our mission or destiny.
We begin to expand our ‘zone’.
But usually there comes a point where we encounter resistance to going any further.
The point where our belief or faith in who we are and what we are doing ceases to grow.
Because we start to become more uncertain of where we are going and more unfamiliar with the path we are taking.
This is the critical point.
We discover at this point that we have reached the end of the ‘slack’ in the bungee rope that is attaching us to the centre of our comfort zone.
It’s starting to pull us back.
The farther ‘out’ we go, the more effort we have to make.
We’ve reached the point where our abilities, talent and ambition to go on exceed our belief and faith in ourselves to do it.
We have two options.
Let the rope snap us back inside our old comfort zone – usually to a point further ‘inside’ than we were before.
Or get help to bolster our belief in ourselves.
To find a Partner in Believing, a Coach, a Mentor – someone who already exists in the place we want to reach – our expanded comfort zone.
You see, cutting the rope is not an option.
Because the ‘bungee’ holding us back is also an umbilical cord.
Unless we actually do want to cut ourselves off from all that has gone before.
Exile ourselves from our history and who we are.
Go completely ‘off the grid’ and abandon all that has gone before.
What you and I want to do is to expand our comfort zone, enlarge it, grow it and with it grow ourselves, evolving into a new phase of our life.
We don’t want to cut ourselves off from family and friends, society or the human race in general.
We still want to be part of it – but bigger and better.
The only reason why we approached the edge, why we broke through and why we hang on to whatever and whoever we find there is to grow, to develop, to be, do, have and give more – to those who remain behind and those who are ahead.
I’m off to do just that.
How about you?