5 Reason Why It`s Hard to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

It is GW and I am on my yearly reading binge. One of things that I like to do when I take some time off, is read a lot of book. Generally, 1 or 2 day, which is not too hard when you are working over over1,100 wpm (average is about 200~250 wpm) for English books. I am about half the speed for Japanese by the way. I don`t do Photoreading as there is no scientific basis on it. It is more about learning how to focus attention.
Anyway, a recent book I read was called Reach by Andy Molinsky. It was about why people do not like to get out of their comfort zone. Plus, it talked about what can be done to get out of it when you need to. The common myth is that you just need “Grit” (another good book by the way) to get over the problem. However, people who consistently get good at getting outside their comfort zone do a lot more than that. The following is my interpretation of the first third of the book.
First, when it comes to the problem of getting out your comfort zone, there are five possible challenges. These are challenges with:

  • Authenticity
  • Likability
  • Competence
  • Resentment
  • Moral

Authenticity Challenge

Imagine using large dramatic gestures in a speech or saying something dramatic. Most people do not feel comfortable do it. It may feel melodramatic or fake. This is the Authenticity challenge. It is where the new behavior that you are thinking about doesn`t feel like “you.” You would feel fake doing it. This is a normal feeling. It will take time for the “old” you to become the “new” you. Just like it takes time for a caterpillar to become a butterfly. Still the change can be scary.

Likability Challenge

Let`s go back to the case of the large dramatic gestures. Most Japanese do not use dramatic gestures. Most Japanese do no walk all over the stage either. So, it is possible that there would be a fear that people will not like you for “going overboard.” The fear of that people will not like you doing that new behavior is the Likability challenge. Some people may even have the fear that if they get too good at speaking, etc. that their co-workers, their friends will hate them. After all the one that stick out get hammered down. This is usually not the case. However, the fear can be very real. This fear can keep people stuck in mediocrity.

Competence Challenge

Here is the fear is looking like idiot in front of people. A person may be afraid of doing the wrong gesture. Maybe it will offend someone. Or maybe the timing will be awkward and just look silly. If this person already has a good deal of experience and authority, the person may feel that looking “incompetent” in this area would hurt his status with other people. For others, it is not a status issue, is the fear of rejection by the audience. Again perfectly normal feeling. However, most people like imperfect people and find it hard to relate to supermen and wonder women.
The next two are not as common, but still exist.

Resentment Challenge

Some people may resent having to give a speech or doing some different from what they have always done. They may resent their boss for requiring them to do it. They may resent the circumstances. There could be any number of reasons. They may wonder why do they have to do this? Are there other people with more skill, time, etc. to do this kind of thing? The resentment maybe legitimate. Someone could have been unfair. Or it could be fear in disguise. You decide.

Moral Challenge

This one doesn`t come up often. But, it can come in both purely moral contexts or cultural contexts. Most often in cultural contexts. For example in many asian cultures a person would be feel that it is morally wrong to publicly argue, disagree, question what another has said. In most western cultural particularly Western European, this is a must have skill.  You need some Cultural Dexterity to solve this one. 
Whether it is public speaking or making a change in some other kind of behavior we all face the problem of getting out of our comfort zone. This problem is not one problem, but could have five possible reasons or some kind of combination. Again, these are: Authenticity, Likability, Competence, Resentment, and Moral.
When you are faced with situation where you feel uncomfortable think about which challege you are facing. By knowing that, you can also figure out how to cope and overcome. So, what is something that is out of your comfort zone? What type of challenge are you facing?  I would love to know, and love to help.
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