Life begins at the end of your comfort zone


Matsi Modise (entrepreneur and founder of SiMODiSA) reminded delegates of a valuable lesson in entrepreneurship at a conference recently. She said “in entrepreneurship there are no comfort zones, if you find yourself comfortable, you must worry, you must not seek to be comfortable. When you are comfortable, you get left behind.”

Comfort zones are overrated. A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there

Human beings always seek to be comfortable. The industrial revolution has created a safe world for us. That we would always seek to be safe. Keep your head down, follow instructions, do as you are told and you will be safe.

The industrial world has created what Seth Godin in Icarus Deception terms the Safety Zone.

Your safety zone, in this context, is measured by the limits beyond which you jeopardise your life or livelihood. For example if I don’t follow instructions I will be fired, if I ask too many questions, it will make my boss uncomfortable.

So we spend most of our times coloring within the lines, keeping within the rules, keeping it safe. The next thing we know, we become comfortable in keeping it safe. We become comfortable in following instructions and doing as we are told.

Our safety zones have become our comfort zones.

We spend most of our life coordinating our comfort zone with our safety zone.

We have become comfortable in keeping it safe.

As we don’t have the time to consistently check whether a decision will take us out of our safety zone, we rely on how the decision makes us feel, which means we check in with our comfort zone, we assume that what makes us comfortable also make us safe.

But things have changed, the industrial revolution is coming to an end. Technology and globalization is redefining the world of work as we used to know it. Machines can follow instructions and do those manual work that doesn’t require a lot of thinking. In fact machines are becoming more intelligent in executing more sophisticated tasks that human can do.

The changes in the economy mean that our safety zone i.e. following instructions and doing as we are told, has shifted. Our safety zone (where we had a good way of making a living) has moved but our comfort zone has not registered and realigned.

The world has changed, but we are still stuck in our comfort zones of keeping it safe. This means that many of us are out of the safety zone and don’t even realise it.

What would/could you do if you were to be retrenched tomorrow or next month?

We need to seek uncomfortable zones.

But change requires commitment and bravery.  It is easier to avoid committing to this change as it is scary and uncomfortable and so instead we “numb” ourselves, perhaps by taking a job that gives us a feeling of “safety” and an easy life but can end up leaving us with a sense of dissatisfaction that our talents are not being fully used, and where we are living our life on someone else’s terms.

The safety zones has shifted, you will need to shift your comfort zones.

Everyone has a comfort zone.

Worth considering: How hard (and how often) are you willing to work to get out of it?

You can turn that into a habit if you choose.

Find your comfort zone, then leave it. The sooner you step away from your comfort zone, the sooner you will realize that it really was not that comfortable.

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. Life begins at the end of your comfort zones.

May you always do what you are afraid to do. If you were waiting for a sign or some form of signal to start, this is it.



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