At the Edge of Extraordinary

She stepped to the edge, her heart racing and sweat building up on her brow. In that moment, she wasn’t sure if she would jump or simply fall off the edge after passing out. Regardless of how it happened, she was definitely going off the edge! From the time she was a child she had been afraid of heights and with the encouragement of her friends, she was now about to jump out of an airplane! Her instincts told her it was a terrible idea, yet something was compelling her, a deep feeling that she needed to do something completely out of her comfort zone – and here it was, her moment of extraordinary courage. She didn’t pass out, but she did jump and it was incredible!
 
That experience became a shining moment for Janie. She would talk about it at parties and felt empowered by the courage she demonstrated. Sometimes, when she would think about it, her heart would begin racing and she felt like she was standing on the edge all over again. Yet, she never considered doing it again or what the next feat of extraordinary courage would be. Janie, like so many of us, believed that stepping out of her comfort zone was a one and done experience. That somehow that single moment would transform everything else in her life. While it’s true that there were residual effects, especially immediately after her bravery – she felt empowered, she felt accomplished, she had more confidence in her ability to overcome fear – those residual effects quickly disappeared. The experience of skydiving became a singular moment that Janie clung to for validation that she was capable. As time went on though, the experience became weaker and weaker validation.
 
Getting out of your comfort zone is essential for success. Just as muscles don’t grow without resistance, neither does our confidence and ability. If we want to grow, we have to push ourselves; we have to go beyond our comfort zones. In my experience most people understand this and in somewhat rare moments will push themselves out of their comfort zone. The problem is that getting out of your comfort zone can’t be a one and done event, if you really want to grow it needs to be a continuous effort. What benefit would it be to your health if you only exercised once a year? The same question can be asked about stepping out of your comfort zone.
 
How you measure success today should not be how you measure success tomorrow. That is the issue with one and done attempts at stepping out of your comfort zone. In Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech for winning Best Actor in 2014, he gave three important things in life, someone to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase.  When speaking about his “someone to chase” he said it was himself…10 years from now. He said this, because he knew that he would never be as extraordinary today as he will be in ten years, so he will always have someone to chase. A measure of success that never changes is the very definition of complacency. When your measure of success consistently changes for the good, it is evidence of growth.
 
So, rather than looking for that one big moment to step out of your comfort zone, look for the small simple opportunities that present themselves everyday. This consistent habit of stepping out of your comfort zone will force your idea of success to change. As you continually stretch yourself, you will experience tremendous growth. Why not get started – go do something right now no matter how small that requires a little effort and feels a bit uncomfortable. You are more capable than you imagine and as you stretch yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone, you’ll discover exactly that.

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