By Kate Steinbacher

Is Comfort all it is cracked up to be? Think with me for a moment. Think about the times during your life that you have been comfortable. Comfort with your job. Comfort in your relationships. Comfort with your home. Is there a sense of peace that comes to mind? Is there a status quo? How about a bit of boredom and inactivity? Perhaps even complacency? I'd like to pose the concept that being too comfortable can also be a detriment. When we are most comfortable and confident we often become stale and sometimes even lazy. We are not as aware of changes and nuances going on around us. It happens to people, and it happens to whole companies as well. When we lose our edge to too much comfort, we risk stagnation, and in this fast paced world, we WILL be passed by.

Now let's look at the places in your life where you encountered your most significant growth. These are generally places when we are outside our comfort zone. Often they are times when we are not in control of the outcome. It can be as painful as a divorce and having to lea to be on your own for the first time, or the loss of a job, or your first year out of high school or college, struggling to make it, getting that first job. Consider the discomfort and the investment you had to make and the risks you had to take. Looking back at a difficult time we have come through, we can see we had skills or developed skills we did not believe were possible. When it is all over and done, we have grown, leaed lessons about ourselves and the world and how we may more "comfortably" move through a difficult place the next time. And even more interesting, we have enlarged our field of comfort or our comfort zone. Not that we would choose to put ourselves in as painful a place as divorce or job loss, but we now can recognize skills, and attitudes we had to develop, that we can use in lesser situations. Each time we step outside our comfort zone we are faced with growth and leaing, we enlarge our world. Another retu on our investment of stepping out of our comfort zone is the perspective we can gain. What was once the most feared loss, can sometimes become a gift.

My challenge to you is to find YOUR Growth ZONE, somewhere between comfort and pain. Take some steps outside your comfort zone and embrace the growth and strength it fosters. Take responsibility for a project at work or at home that will stretch your abilities. Join Toastmasters and hone your speaking skills. Take one step.

Melinda Cohan
The Coaches Console