From Pain to Potential: The Power of Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone

comfort zone fear pain Feb 10, 2018

Screamed at, chased and threatened, I’ve been the target of anger, shock and rage - even an angry mob on occasion.

As a news reporter, you find yourself in some very volatile situations, some dangerous.  Situations that demand you summon your courage to defuse, before emotion gives way to physical reaction.

I was always able to carefully confront and de-escalate the frenzy and fury. But sometimes I’d leave shaking!

Today, I’m no longer a news reporter, and sometimes I wonder how I EVER ended up as one. As a child, I was shy to the extreme, and so afraid to speak up that I made an irresistible target for bullies.  I remember, at age 7, being circled by a group of boys taunting me and throwing things.  I stood there silent and frozen, terrified of direct confrontation.

How do you push past that paralyzing fear? Step by Baby Step.

My journey started with moving to new schools, on to new states and then, and then to new countries (from England to the Middle East and now, New Zealand). With each move, I kept inching my way past borders and boundaries.  Forced by circumstance to swallow my shyness, speak up, push past fear and obstacles. Step by step, with a few stumbles, I just kept stretching myself a little more and when I fell, finding the backbone to pick myself up and keep on moving forward.

Sound like a journey you’ve been on?  Then you know it can be done.

The problem is, sometimes we get stuck.

Pushing past your comfort zone is about taking one Baby Step at a time - again and again and again.  That’s how you learn.  But don’t think all that repetition always makes it easier.

Sometimes it can hurt.

 Even when you know from experience it will all work out, and understand how much fuller and more rewarding your life will be when you get to where you’re going.

When I spoke about how we can, step by step, redefine and live an Extraordinary Life in my TEDx talk on Leading an Extraordinary Life, I didn’t emphasize this one, critical point enough.  Not because I was trying to make it seem easier, but because frankly, I forgot.  It’s like childbirth, once you get a little distance from your last big push, you forget just how painful it was.

Until the next one.

You will find yourself stuck when you’ve gotten comfortable and feel content, and then - wham!  Life will nose you out of your cozy little nest again and present you with yet another opportunity to grow.  You will resist.  You could get angry.  You will mourn.  You might even throw a little tantrum.  And then you will then stand up and move forward.  But, as if you’ve never done it before, these baby steps will feel like you’re walking across hot coals.

Maybe it was an new irresistible opportunity - but one that required you move; an unplanned addition to your family or suddenly losing a loved one; a relationship that blossomed at the wrong time, in the wrong place, but it blossomed nonetheless - or one that suddenly fell apart.

Know the feeling?

You can fill in the blank here _____ with whatever’s happened to you.

Life's events can push you to the point where you feel you might break. But you don't.

You just have to do what you’ve done before: put one foot in front of the other. Even though it might feel like you’re walking across hot coals very very slowly.

To live not just a life, but an extraordinary one, shock and loss and pain and discomfort are sometimes part of your journey. The price tag, if you will.

Pain doesn't last. 

The alternative is denial. Burying your head in the sand. Choosing to live a smaller life, with a tight, restrictive lid. Comfortable (to a point) but contained. Forever wondering what might have been if you’d only pushed past...and found both your strength as well as your untapped potential.

It’s how a painfully shy young girl grew up to be a news reporter and move all the way around the world.  It's how people conquer all kinds of challenges every single day. It’s how you will find your path to an Extraordinary Life too.

(Photo courtesy of my sister-in-law and her daughters. They reached the top of Mt. Whitney, after hiking 220 miles of the John Muir trail in 15 days...)


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