Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do Hard Things: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

So I'm reading a book by two teenagers and getting kind of inspired. As I mentioned in my last post I'm reading Do Hard Things. The authors say that there are 5 main ways of fulfilling this. The first is "Taking The First Scary Step." It seems that as people we are totally geared to not doing hard things because we are scared. Scared of failing, scared of being uncomfortable, and scared of the effort it will take. The thing is that when we don't risk anything, we don't gain anything. It's like investing, you have to risk your money to make money. You can go through school (or life) without ever risking anything, but you won't really gain anything either. Until you realize how wasteful it is to go through life not gaining anything because you are too afraid, you won't be able to do what is the first (and most difficult) part of Doing Hard Things: you need to step out of your comfort zone. You need to face your fears and step outside what feels safe, secure, and cozy. This is the hardest thing, but is almost always the most profitable.

It makes sense. In fact, for many years I was a big proponent of stepping out of your comfort zone (ask the students and camp staff from back then). I became convinced (through LiMiT training and other stuff) that stepping out of your comfort zone was the only way to grow and so I grabbed onto the idea with gusto. I began to ask it of my students, my staff, and even myself! At the best of times I'd say I even lived it. And I had a lot of people thank me for stretching them. Why? Because they were growing through the experience.

Unfortunately, for the past year or so I think I forgot this important life lesson. I'd say I've been avoiding discomfort as best as I can! My personal discipline has been low - just enough to get by. My risk tolerance has been extremely low. I've turned down several ministry opportunities that seemed scary or uncomfortable. I'd even say that I've been less afraid to step out of my comfort zone with those close to me and with God. It struck me as I read that somehow I had backslidden into exactly what I had strived so hard to avoid - lazy, selfish, and cowardly living. And I don't like it.

So today I decided to step out of my comfort zone once again - I said yes to preaching at my church. I've put them off for over three years but today I felt convicted enough about my lack of comfort-zone stretching that I agreed to it. Am I scared? Absolutely! That's why I'm doing it. Whether it goes poorly or well, I'll be stronger because of it. I encourage you, where do you need to step out of your comfort zone? If your like me, you find that staying all nice and "safe" doesn't make you feel any better (in fact I'd say it makes us eventually feel worse). Wouldn't it be ironic if we spent much of our lifes seeking comfort when it is exactly that comfort which will slowly destroy us? I believe God has so much more for us, but we need to take that first scary step. Do it today!


sheri said...

Whenever I hear that phrase, Mark, I see your name flashing in my brain! haha I heard it so much while in drama and it was awesome! Ok, at the time it didn't really seem that amazing...but now I love it that you helped me step out of my comfort zone! Ahhh good times!

Jay Boaz said...

The phrase "stepping out of your comfort zone" will forever and always be associated with Mr. Mark Westman!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark. I came across your blog through some others that I read.

I can relate as far as trying to stay ‘comfortable’. I have been lucky enough to be part of a church that has helped me to stretch and grow. Sometimes, though, I’m tempted to think “ok, God, look how far I’ve come, can’t I just stay where I am now?”. I went from being unable to speak AT ALL in group situations (Bible studies or small groups), to reading scripture during the service, teaching Sunday School, leading a small group, being chairman of the service. These things are easy for some people, but for me each step was huge. I feel like I’ve been stretched as much as I can be, but somehow I think God has other plans.

For me, the stretching initially was helping me to be able to share and participate (helping ME to grow), but now it’s helping me to be a leader (helping OTHERS to grow).

From experience (where I have failed at times), I would just say this: as someone looks to ‘get out of their comfort zone’, they should at the same time make sure that they’re maintaining a healthy relationship with God (active prayer life, time spent with Him and in His word). Also, if getting out of your comfort zone means leading, then make sure you know what you believe, and that it agrees with what your church believes. This isn’t necessarily directed at you, Mark , but are just my thoughts.

Oops, my comment turned into more of a post, sorry. Might have to restart my own blog.

PS. Mark, I wouldn’t mind talking to you some time about your real estate adventures.
Oh…and good luck with your sermon!

thepenners <@>

Stacey said...

Don't know if you've read the book "The Yikes Zone" but your post brought back memories of this book. Written by a ski instructor it definately has something to offer anyone about surrendering to your fears. Here's some reviews on Amazon

p.s. I bought this book after a particularily terrifying ski experience in which I realized my childhood "no fear" had left me! I was having a hard time getting back on skiis!! Anyway, I found it an all around good read on this subject!

Anonymous said...

Signing my contract with my producer was the biggest step out of my comfort zone I have ever made. It's exhilarating and makes me want to throw up all at the same time!

I'm sure you will do awesome in your step into the unknown. Enjoy it! And try not to throw up!