Get out of your comfort zone – then it’s downhill all the way!

Here’s the second of my musings following my recent mountain biking and hiking holiday to the French Alps.

As you may recall from my first blog (If you didn’t manage to catch it, you can find it here:  http://bright-bird.co.uk/blog/rufty-tufty-jumpers-and-the-art-of-faking-it-til-you-make-it), I have a ‘More Enthusiasm Than Ability’ approach to many of my hobbies, with mountain biking being a classic example.

I was very excited to be going on this holiday, it had been a long time in the planning. I was particularly looking forward to the long sweeping mountain bike runs down the mountain, having first hitched a ride up on a ski lift, thus eliminating the need to pedal uphill for the whole holiday!

Well that was the dream!  The reality, as I soon discovered, was that there was an alarming disparity between the difficulty of the runs and my ability to remain upright on my bike whilst navigating them! (Cue various mountain rescue scenarios involving paramedics and helicopters running through my mind).  Additionally, despite going up the mountain on the chair lift, there were still some huge inclines to tackle.  So what to do?  Well, my choices were:

  • Only do really easy, boring routes with the under 7’s
  • Go for the easy option and hire an electric bike like many other people had
  • Go for it anyway

There were two main drivers in my decision here.  Firstly, that I’d be so disappointed if I’d missed out on an opportunity I’d looked forward to for ages and secondly, my partner Malcolm, who (unsurprisingly) is a much more proficient rider than I am, would also miss out if I didn’t do what we’d planned.  So yes, you’ve guessed it, we went off and mountain biked – and it was SCARY and tough and hard work and steep and scary again!  But it was also exhilarating and fun and challenging and ultimately fulfilling and miraculously, my biking ability and self-confidence got so much better, so quickly.

Tony Robbins often coins the phrase, ‘If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas’ and this, I think is the moral of my tale – not that I am saying Malcolm has fleas mind you – but rather, had I have hired an electric bike, or done the easy-peasy routes with the less advanced cyclists, I’d have never have improved (or had such a good time).  What actually happened is that Malcolm would hurtle ahead of me on his bike and I’d rattle along behind, doing my best to keep up, but knowing that because he’d done it, it was in fact possible.  As a result, I raised my game and got WAY out of my comfort zone.

But here’s the really interesting point I think – every time I broke that comfort zone barrier, that became my new ‘normal’.  It really didn’t take time after time to do this, just doing something once became just ‘what I do’. This I believe, is the real key to personal improvement of any kind – growth and development will only come hand in hand with some discomfort or difficulty if it is to be truly meaningful and worthwhile, whether that’s in business, professional life, or just life in general.

 

So what’s your next challenge – and who are you going to enlist to help you get there?

Karen Amos is the founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training – providing Result-Focused Coaching and development support for leaders, teams and organisations across the private, public, not-for-profit and education sectors.  To find out more, please visit www.bright-bird.co.uk

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