In this blog I'm going to talk about the single most important principle I’ve learned that has changed my life more than anything else. It is the principle of stretching: Stretching is the act of doing something that you know is good for you and/or good for others and it scares you. So read on and enjoy!
Now Imagine yourself at the center of a circle. The edge of the circle is the edge of your comfort zone. It is everything that you know and are comfortable dealing with. Once in a while you might encounter an irregularity that hits the edge of your comfort zone, if it’s a little thing you expand to include it.
Now, if it’s a big thing, guess what? You’re going to be very uncomfortable. And your actions and decisions about it is going to affect you in a major way. If you decide to avoid dealing with it, your comfort zone stays where it is. Not too bad, you get to be comfortable…but you also will not grow.
If you choose to deal with it, your comfort zone will expand to include it, and guess what?!? You now have an even BIGGER comfort zone. The growth is not always guaranteed to be easy or painless though, in fact it usually isn’t. There is hard work waiting for you behind the decision you make.
And we’ve all encountered situations like this when we’ve had to face difficult obstacles thrown our way. Why choose to expand though when it’s more comfortable to stay the way you are? The key is to realize, your comfort zone is also your zone of power, and you’re potential to be everything that you want to be in life.
The more things in your life you get under your ability to handle, the wider your zone, the richer and greater your life becomes. A bigger comfort zone usually comes with a bigger sense of self-confidence, self-trust, more life experience, and it continues to grow as you grow to want to grow even more.
What does being comfortable and not wanting to stretch yourself outside of a small comfort zone get you? Well, put it this way; how much can you squeeze into a tiny little box or how much water can you pour into a small glass?
Expanding the edges of your comfort zone is always going to be uncomfortable. This is a good thing because how else will you know that you’re on the edge of another breakthrough and another level in life?
I can remember the first few times I started applying this principle. At first, whenever I found myself faced with new and challenging situations, I would get all tense, nervous, my heart would race and I could feel it from the pit of my stomach all the way across my body. Did I always manage to take action in spite of my fear and break through my comfort barrier to grow?
Honestly, no. But most of the times I did. And most of the time was better than not trying at all.
And what I found is that as I continued to do it more and more, I got better at it. It doesn’t mean that my discomfort (fear, anxiety, stress, self-doubt) got any less. In fact, it sometimes got worse as the level of challenges that I rose to get higher. But then, so did my confidence and my ability to handle them, and eventually the things that used to scare me stopped scaring me after a while. (I use the example of fear, uncomfortable feelings at the edge of the comfort zone can take many forms, such as procrastination).
And the more I confronted my fear, the better I got at recognizing it. The more I stretched, the more I realized that whenever I felt the fear, instead of letting it stop me, I would recognize it as a sign that I had come up against my comfort zone and I had a unique and valuable opportunity to expand and grow into my greatness.
So instead of feeling afraid and going, ‘Oh no, I can’t do this’ or ‘ what if I don’t succeed?’ like I used to, I’d go, "Yes, fear, welcome back! I’ve come up against my limits again…time to face another challenge, where is your brother hard work?!? "and I would create my action steps to move forward and take the first step.
And when you recognize this, I can guarantee you that if you keep stretching yourself and keep moving forward, you’ll become so addicted to growth that fear will no longer be an obstacle but a trigger for you to embrace and take action in spite of it.
A useful belief that I’ve come to adopt is this: The level of challenges I’m facing in my life now are there only because I can now deal with them.
In other words, whatever level of challenges I’m facing right now is appropriate to where I am now in my personal & business growth for my ability to tackle and overcome, no more, no less.
Now I have to give a disclaimer to say that if you are trying something that you have no knowledge and experience and your fearful of the consequences, my advice to you would be to get the knowledge and understanding before doing anything.
I want you to stretch yourself, don’t be stupid.
You can stretch yourself intelligently, meaning acquire the knowledge through mentors and people who are doing what you want to do so you can start building your confident in yourself that you can and will achieve what you set out to accomplish.
Stretching intelligently means that you know there are some fears that are valid and rational. I will definitely feel afraid if was going to do something that I have zero knowledge and experience in it, and that’s good fear because it’s stopping me from doing something that’s a stretch but not an intelligent one, and definitely not good for me at this point in time.
Keeping that in mind, I can guarantee you, that if you don’t take anything away from this blog, or if this is the only entry you ever read (I hope not! Bookmark me, subscribe to my RSS feed or emailing list and keep in touch!), but you take this principle of stretching with you and apply it throughout your life, you will grow above and beyond anything you could expect and achieve anything you want in life.
So the next time you encounter a chance to grow, but feel fear or discomfort and know that it’s not a rational or useful feeling, recognize it as only a trigger for you to break open your comfort zone and grow to the next level.
Stretch Yourself! You'll be glad you did.
I look forward to connecting with you!
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