“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Neale Donald Walsch
In the second season of the American teen drama television series Gossip Girl, there is a valuable lesson many of us can learn from Noah Shapiro, Dan Humphrey’s mentor:
Getting out of the dreaded comfort zone!
Here’s the part of the conversation I found interesting
Noah Shapiro (David Patrick Kelly): You sent me five stories. All about a sheltered young man with girl trouble who lives with his daddy in Brooklyn. You think that’s going to knock the Yale English department off their tenured asses?
Dan: I just, I thought a writer was supposed to write what he knows. This is what I know.
Noah Shapiro: Then learn something new. Get out of your comfort zone. A cardinal rule of writing: if your work’s too safe then do something dangerous.
Dan: I wouldn’t know where to begin.
Noah Shapiro: Then find someone who does know. When I was young Bukowski put a shot glass on my head, blew it off with a pistol. Find your Bukowski. Then get back to me.
source: Gossip Girl Season 2 Episode 5: “The Serena Also Rises”
I found this conversation quite encouraging and inspirational.
So, how easy is it to find your “Bukowski”? That’s not impossible. But, finding that one thing that motivates us to get out of our comfort zone, requires a little of bit of effort.
As humans, it’s normally not easy for us to do something strange, or anything we’ve never done before. There’s always that one ‘thing’ trying to hold us back. Maybe it’s an excuse? fear? or anxiety?
So, what exactly is a “comfort zone”? Why is it difficult for people to break out of it?
I like the way Bear Grylls looks at it. He states:
The thing about a ‘comfort zone’ is that it sounds, well, just too comfortable – and when you are too comfortable you lose your edge. That’s why I call it a comfort pit, because a pit is somewhere you want to get out of as fast as possible. – source A Survival Guide for Life: How to Achieve Your Goals, Thrive in Adversity, and Grow in Character
In “From Comfort Zone to Performance Management” Alasdair White defines comfort zone as
“ a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.”
Although it is hard to trace the origin of the term “ Comfort Zone,” the idea goes back to a psychology experiment conducted Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson in 1908 where they used mice, to investigate the impact of ‘anxiety’ on performance. They explained that:
“Anxiety improves performance until a certain optimum level of arousal has been reached. Beyond that point, performance deteriorates as higher levels of anxiety are attained”
In other words, an increase in anxiety, will help boost and maximize performance. The good news is that, this happens outside your comfort zone.
However there is danger to it, if over done. Too much of anxiety, is stress which definitely contributes to a decrease in performance.
So how do you get out of the comfort zone?
There are numerous articles and studies on how to get out of this situation. Apart from the sources i just mentioned, i would recommend to first start by checking out Quora.com. There, you’re likely to find brilliant answers and further recommendations.