Allow me, if you would, a brief story. My son, Ian, was in Denmark recently. He went there alone to learn about Danish culture. Though he had a few meetings scheduled during the week, nobody really knew he would be there. There wasn’t anyone waiting for him at the airport to whisk him away to explore the country. Nope, it was all on him. And, it was tough. He went sightseeing by himself. He ate meals by himself. For such a social guy, it was lonely. He decided he needed to do something about it. He needed to step outside of his comfort zone.
Truth told, we all have a tendency to stay comfortably within our comfort zone because, well, it’s comfortable. We hang out with the same people – typically people just like us. We engage in activities that we know and like. We eat the same foods. We stick with what we know.
Sometimes, our comfort zone is exactly where we need to be. And, when we’re there, we ought to get comfy. Unwind. Relax. We got this!
Sometimes, though, breaking free from our routine is just what we need to jump start our sense of wonder, our sense of curiosity, our sense of self.
Sometimes, we can combine both the comfortable and the slightly less comfortable to better position ourselves for success.
That’s what Ian discovered. To fight the creeping sense of loneliness and isolation, Ian stopped by the concierge desk of his Copenhagen hotel. There, he met Teela. He asked, “so, is there a good place to watch an F1 race around here?” For Ian, F1 is very comfortable – he knows the drivers, he watches the qualifiers and certainly tunes in for the grand prix races themselves. Sitting in a pub in a city he doesn’t know with people he doesn’t know… well, that’s slightly less comfortable. But, Teela was on it! She told him where to go, what time to be there and even said, “I’ll probably see you there!” Once he got over the lack of familiarity with the venue, he had a great time getting into the race with the locals.
In that initial concierge conversation, something miraculous happened. Tella asked Ian, “hey, what are you doing after the race? I’m teaching a group of school children to ride bikes. I have an extra bike. Why don’t you join us?” Boom. Friend made – plans acquired. The uncomfortable was suddenly comfortable. And, hey, it took two. Ian had to be willing to put himself out there and be open to trying something new. Teela had to be willing to extend an invite and deliver an expression of friendship.
So, what new thing will you try? Who will you reach out to? It may feel awkward and uncomfortable now, but if you reimagine your comfort zone, it may just expand to include all sorts of new possibilities.
P.S. – The “bike” that Teela lent to Ian was no ordinary Schwinn. She wasn’t teaching little ones to ditch their training wheels. No. These were BMX racers and those kids were flying! Ian described it as the most fun he had during his entire adventure in Denmark. How comfortable.