Guest post by James, Leverage Program moderator
I had just gotten off the plane in Belgrade, Serbia and a friend of mine, John, mentioned to me he was was a bit sketched out by the city already. He had heard it was dangerous and his parents had warned him about the city. I hadn’t formed any opinion yet, but I was comfortable and I felt fine. He definitely was not.
Our driver dropped us off outside of an apartment building. Our host started looking for the keys, and he realised he forgot the keys and had to go on a long drive to get them. Not having any access to cell phones or communication, we just had to sit on the sidewalk and wait for Eddie to return with the keys.
I was comfortable and talked with other friends while we waited. I have traveled throughout Europe and Latin America and have been in situations where I didn’t know the language or anyone, but I made it through. When I first started traveling a lot it was uncomfortable, but now I am used to it.
John paced around and you could tell he was nervous. John was only used to traveling in ‘safe’ destinations, such as Western Europe and different parts of America. At this point in time, he was outside of his comfort zone and it was obvious to everyone. Eventually Eddie returned with the keys and we put our bags in the apartment, went out, and enjoyed the city.
In my opinion, this is a good thing for John. When we feel safe in our comfort zone, we never test our limits. John pushed through his limits of comfort and he survived. He is stronger because of it. He is more likely to try new things and continue his pursuit of personal growth.
At many times in my life, I had been too comfortable. This could mean sitting on the couch and watching TV instead of pursuing new relationships. New relationships are challenging. Sitting on your ass watching TV is easy and comfortable. Making myself a better man is challenging. The status quo is comfortable.
Growing up, my parents always pushed me out of my comfort zone. I traveled to Russia for two weeks with a school trip when I was 10 years old. I spent time with my cousins in Panama while not knowing a word of Spanish. I spent time with a family in Denmark and toured Greece and Italy with friends. My parents constantly pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
As an adult, I stopped pushing myself. I was comfortable in life. I made enough money to survive. I would go home and watch TV. I would avoid challenging situations.
With the support of Robbie and the group, I realised I needed to continue to grow and push myself out of my comfort zone. I started traveling again. I put myself out there by talking to women on the street. I started forming better relationships with my friends and family. I started going on more dates, searching for what I want in life, and pushing myself to be the man I want to be. It isn’t always easy and comfortable, and that is the way I like it.
Even though at this point in life, my comfort zone is much larger than John’s comfort zone, I am proud of him for taking steps to push through his. Yes, I was comfortable sitting there in the middle of a city I had never been to. One day, as John continues to grow and push himself out of his comfort zone, he will be too.
How are you pushing through your comfort zone?