The Comfort Zone Paradox
The Comfort Zone Paradox
As with all aspects of life – it’s all about balance. There are no blanket rules that cover all scenarios and that’s where our judgement comes into play. Some time back I wrote a piece titled, “The Comfort Zone”, which related to staying in your comfort zone but as we all know, there’s a time to take a very different approach. The original article related to flying operations. Although there are regulatory standards, these can be perceived as the minimum that are legally required. Cloud base, visibility and fuel uplift are just a few examples of mandatory requirements that we can expand upon to best fit our personal level of experience. In this case a buffer zone creates our comfort zone.
At the other end of the scale, on occasions, there is much to be gained from stepping outside our comfort zone. This does not directly relate to aviation where safety is the priority. However, other aspects of our life beckon for us to explore our limits. For some, that may be overcoming fear and taking a tandem parachute jump and for others, leaving a loathed job with no equally “secure” alternative.
The comfort zone can be a place of contentment but it may also be a rut of routine. For that reason, we need to look left and right as well as straight ahead. There may be exciting opportunities waiting in the wings that are not immediately obvious. Sometimes we may be thrust out of the comfort zone and sometimes we need to initiate that bold step. However, if we find ourselves positioned outside our comfort zone, it is to be seen as an opportunity.
Personally, each time I have found myself in new territory it has been another chapter in my life that I wouldn’t change. The most obvious example in my case is my foray into writing which started twenty years ago. Unemployed as a pilot, I had no back-up plan at that time. I went to university and began writing very technical documents. The light bulb moment came when I decided to write an article for a magazine. I was full of insecurity and doubt, waiting to be ridiculed by my peers. And then none of that happened! Readers and friends alike were wonderful. In stepping outside my comfort zone, I had released a new passion that has been with me ever since and will hopefully continue once I have parked the aircraft’s brakes for the final time. Venturing outside the comfort zone can be scary and it can even fail but as I grow older, I realise with increasing intensity that life is about experiences and NOT “stuff”. Even when that experience turns bad, it’s an opportunity to learn and emerge stronger. And when things go right, we wonder why we took so long to journey down that road.
The comfort zone is a paradox. At times we need it to broaden our minimum requirements to enhance our sense of safety, be that flight parameters or bank savings. And then there are those times when we need to colour outside the lines and try something new. It may be a false start at first, or it may be amazing from day one. The only thing that is certain is that we never know how expansive our life may be until we take the leap beyond our comfort zone.