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Off the Couch | Why is the Comfort Zone so Dangerous?

26 June 2018

What’s wrong with living in your comfort zone? Why bother pushing past your limitations? I’ll answer that below.

What’s the danger in being in your comfort zone?

Not learning new stuff. If you don’t learn new stuff, you don’t grow. If you don’t grow, you get knocked over. This happens time and again, in business, in sport and in life… The reality is that we all gravitate very strongly to live within our comfort zones, where we can control the responses we get to behaviour. We think, “If I do that, then this happens. I’ll never know if that was a better thing to do, it might be a worse thing to do. But I’ll keep doing this thing I’ve done before, again and again.”

The trouble is that if we never try anything new, we never grow – we never learn. If I step out of the box and get a negative reaction, I learn something. And I grow – one step at a time. I want that sense of adventure and challenge in my life: I want to be constantly growing. Don’t you?

What if someone is too scared or tired? What’s the smallest possible step?

If I’m talking to someone who’s hit a brick wall, there’s one message I want to get across. I want to help them understand that the feeling of, “I can’t take another step or do another hour” is a defence mechanism in their mind. A subconscious decision that your mind implements to keep you safe. Once you know that feeling of, “I can’t do this”, then you’ll know that on the other side of can’t there’s usually a margin. You can always push further.

Take that feeling of deflation and overwhelm and turn it around. In my day job, I’m a sales guy. I get budgets and targets and think it’s not possible. Sometimes it’s my employees who encourage me and we figure out how to do it and attack it from that angle. But the mind is such a powerful tool. It’s designed to keep you inside the comfort area. That doesn’t mean it’s a decision: it’s natural. Only when you understand that can you figure out how you take a step into the unknown space.

What did you believe were your limitations, and what do you believe now?

I am not the inspirational speaker who says nothing is impossible, and if you put your mind to it, everything is possible. I hate that message: there’s a lot that’s impossible. Be realistic. Just believe that where your mind tells you the endline is, 99% of the time there’s quite a lot of safe margin on the other side, at least 30% further (in my and scientific opinion). The lessons in life that lie on the other side of that boundary are invaluable.

5 reasons to get out of your comfort zone

I know it’s hard. I know your comfort zone is comfortable – by definition. But don’t waste your life sitting around on the couch being comfortable. Here are a couple of reasons to get out there and do more.

  1. If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you won’t learn new stuff and grow. If you stop growing, you will get knocked over – particularly in business. Someone will do better than you. If you’re standing still, someone will pass you by, innovate, do it better, do it more inventively.
  2. Yes, it’s easier to do what we know. Yes, it can be intimidating to try something new. But if you always stick with what is easy, you’ll never know what you’re truly capable of.
  3. Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean being constantly uncomfortable and on edge – not at all. Sometimes it’s a matter of balance: I need to balance swimming, speaking, business, family. I want to be able to do the things I’m passionate about – I want to be free enough to jump on a plane and do an ice swim anywhere around the world. But I can only do that because I’ve practised getting out of my comfort zone.
  4. We are designed to believe in our own limitations. When you believe in your own limitations, you have no reason to challenge them. But challenging them is part of what we’re here to do.
  5. Whatever it is in your life, if you believe you can’t do it, you just won’t try. If you don’t want to do it because it really doesn’t interest you, no problem. But there are many things we veer away from because we’re scared to do it and our minds tell us we can’t do it. And that’s not a real excuse.

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  • @seachangeproject #MyOctopusTeacher #Netflix #Conservation #oceanconservation #singleuseplastic #WWF #SASSI #sustainability #sustainablefishing #SeaChangeProject" > @seachangeproject #MyOctopusTeacher #Netflix #Conservation #oceanconservation #singleuseplastic #WWF #SASSI #sustainability #sustainablefishing #SeaChangeProject" />Can you watch The Octopus Teacher and still not want to do all you can to help protect our ocean and it's incredible, mysterious, peaceful tenants?This Documentary really touched me…I can't compare to Craig Foster, but I’ve been so blessed to swim with so many beautiful Ocean creatures – from mammoth whales and smaller ones too, countless playful dolphins, plenty cheeky seals, weird anti-social sunfish, penguins and yes, sharks too.I have even had yellowtail fish follow me for kilometres when I was swimming between continents, Europe to Africa’s Gibraltar Straits. They would inquisitively look directly into my goggles with their big round, penetrating eyes. When you share each other’s space in this way, something creeps into your core, into your soul and you’ll intuitively know you’ve been tasked by the creatures of the sea to help them. Follow -> @seachangeproject #MyOctopusTeacher #Netflix #Conservation #oceanconservation #singleuseplastic #WWF #SASSI #sustainability #sustainablefishing #SeaChangeProject
  • Laying down audio books today at @blackhole_studios with @chris_tait_saLaying down audio books today at @blackhole_studios with @chris_tait_sa
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  • When it comes to the prism of possibilities, I’ve learnt that the real limit or “IMPOSSIBLE” is definitely not where your mind tells you it is. There is always significant margin on the other side of this ‘safe’ limit which is where the magic starts to happen. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to help audiences to Push Past Impossible – not anyone else’s impossible, but rather their own.The space or MARGIN between those two lines is where you start to get a concept of how much more you are capable of. It’s not a comfortable space, it’s the definition of being outside your comfort zone – but that’s where you’re going to learn something.I think people know what their impossibles are, deep down… The first step is to identify those moments where there’s a choice to make: you can follow this path because you know you can deliver a nice steady performance, learn nothing and achieve a reasonable goal. But at the same time there’s another potential path: a way to do something differently, or better. Why didn’t you choose that? Because it was a risk, and you thought you could fail. Once you start challenging things on a small level, you can keep growing.When it comes to the prism of possibilities, I’ve learnt that the real limit or “IMPOSSIBLE” is definitely not where your mind tells you it is. There is always significant margin on the other side of this ‘safe’ limit which is where the magic starts to happen. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to help audiences to Push Past Impossible – not anyone else’s impossible, but rather their own.The space or MARGIN between those two lines is where you start to get a concept of how much more you are capable of. It’s not a comfortable space, it’s the definition of being outside your comfort zone – but that’s where you’re going to learn something.I think people know what their impossibles are, deep down… The first step is to identify those moments where there’s a choice to make: you can follow this path because you know you can deliver a nice steady performance, learn nothing and achieve a reasonable goal. But at the same time there’s another potential path: a way to do something differently, or better. Why didn’t you choose that? Because it was a risk, and you thought you could fail. Once you start challenging things on a small level, you can keep growing.
  • Please think twice before you buy, take a straw, eat with a plastic fork 🏻️ #strawssuck #reuse #recycle #singleuseplasticPlease think twice before you buy, take a straw, eat with a plastic fork 🏻️ #strawssuck #reuse #recycle #singleuseplastic
  • #Repost @tmpublishers・・・A piece from Ryan Stramrood’s chapter, You Are All Extreme Adventurers, in THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ …“Every time I have jumped into cold water, be it an uncomfortable 16 degrees Celsius, a brutal 5 degrees Celsius or a deadly minus 1 degree Celsius, without fail, while I am swimming and trying to achieve my goal, the overriding emotion and belief is that this will never end. At many points it will feel impossible to reach the shore I am aiming for. The pain and the discomfort are often way too daunting to process at that moment, and the distance still to cover way too far. At some point my mind will do its best to convince me that I will die if I do not bail from the challenge. Quit. I look for excuses to fail, not for reasons to finish. And I spend a lot of time beating myself up for voluntarily putting myself in this position.But while all of this is certainly true, the overriding truth and the lesson here, is that every time I complete the challenge and slow the shivering, it is only minutes before all that pain, discomfort and doubt during the challenge disappears into the abyss and it is only the learnings that remain. … And it will be the same, as we mop up our businesses and our lives.”Available in all good bookstores countrywide, and as a Kindle on Amazon: copy link in comments.#Bookstagram #books #newrelease #southafrica#Repost @tmpublishers・・・A piece from Ryan Stramrood’s chapter, You Are All Extreme Adventurers, in THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ …“Every time I have jumped into cold water, be it an uncomfortable 16 degrees Celsius, a brutal 5 degrees Celsius or a deadly minus 1 degree Celsius, without fail, while I am swimming and trying to achieve my goal, the overriding emotion and belief is that this will never end. At many points it will feel impossible to reach the shore I am aiming for. The pain and the discomfort are often way too daunting to process at that moment, and the distance still to cover way too far. At some point my mind will do its best to convince me that I will die if I do not bail from the challenge. Quit. I look for excuses to fail, not for reasons to finish. And I spend a lot of time beating myself up for voluntarily putting myself in this position.But while all of this is certainly true, the overriding truth and the lesson here, is that every time I complete the challenge and slow the shivering, it is only minutes before all that pain, discomfort and doubt during the challenge disappears into the abyss and it is only the learnings that remain. … And it will be the same, as we mop up our businesses and our lives.”Available in all good bookstores countrywide, and as a Kindle on Amazon: copy link in comments.#Bookstagram #books #newrelease #southafrica
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  • "The time for different is now." When @tmpublishers reached out with a request for me to contribute to a new release: "THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ" I jumped at the opportunity to feature among some of SAs most brilliant business thinkers.Thanks to the glorious rain and cold weather in Cape Town, I am halfway through this book and literally inhaling the knowledge and insights on every page. As the title says, it is certainly the book every business owner should read right now, although I feel it's highly relevant for ANYONE in current circumstances of overwhelm and uncertainty.To quote from the @BonangMohale chapter, an expression passed down from his Grandmother that I simply LOVE: "Behold the turtle - it only makes progress when it's neck is stuck out!" Copies are still available on Loot - link in bio#TimeForDifferent #PushPastImpossible #RecommendedReading #BookRecommendation"The time for different is now." When @tmpublishers reached out with a request for me to contribute to a new release: "THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ" I jumped at the opportunity to feature among some of SAs most brilliant business thinkers.Thanks to the glorious rain and cold weather in Cape Town, I am halfway through this book and literally inhaling the knowledge and insights on every page. As the title says, it is certainly the book every business owner should read right now, although I feel it's highly relevant for ANYONE in current circumstances of overwhelm and uncertainty.To quote from the @BonangMohale chapter, an expression passed down from his Grandmother that I simply LOVE: "Behold the turtle – it only makes progress when it's neck is stuck out!" Copies are still available on Loot – link in bio#TimeForDifferent #PushPastImpossible #RecommendedReading #BookRecommendation
  • Yesterday I became the record holder for the most Robben Island Crossings ever completed, a goal I have been working towards for many years 🏻 Being my first RI swim since lockdown restrictions, and very little training, my support crew reckon I broke two records that day, the second record being my “slowest” crossing to date  Not entirely correct but very close! It was tough, but it’s done. Dedicated to the late Theo Yach, who held the record previously and set the bar so high 🏻Yesterday I became the record holder for the most Robben Island Crossings ever completed, a goal I have been working towards for many years 🏻 Being my first RI swim since lockdown restrictions, and very little training, my support crew reckon I broke two records that day, the second record being my “slowest” crossing to date Not entirely correct but very close! It was tough, but it’s done. Dedicated to the late Theo Yach, who held the record previously and set the bar so high 🏻