You have heard the famous quote or statement that ‘your income is the average of your five closest friends.’ It could be within the range someplace, but nevertheless it is constrained, that’s right, constrained by the performance of your five closest friends. This quote is credited to Jim Rohn as I’ve been told. How is this idea derived?
Your five closest friends and associates are friends because you have similar interests; go to similar places and live in similar surroundings. That is, they are within your comfort zone, (see episode 15). Additionally, you are comfortably within their comfort zones, which is the danger.
If you try to drift out of the comfort zones of your friends, they will discourage you. After all, most people never will leave their comfort zone.
There is a causal relationship between where a person lives and their friends, future lifestyle, business and income. In this episode we discuss how it affects everything from your education to where you live and what vacations you have. It is your future.
So, how do you make progress with all these limits on you? I discuss what I did and what you might consider yourself.
Thomas: Welcome to another episode of Life Unsettled – New Path, Better Future. Today I’m going to talk a little bit differently on a topic that most people feel that they know something about, and they probably do to some extent – the comfort zone. (see Episode 15) We have lots of opinions, ideas, and thoughts on it, but I want to try to think about it in a little bit more expansive and different way.
Of course, the comfort zone is where you go in where you’re needing to learn new stuff or you’re going to learn new stuff. That is you go outside the area you’re comfortable with to get into something that is different.
It’s not just about learning that makes you uncomfortable, but it’s also social situations, whether in person or online, meeting new people in uncomfortable situations, networking, etc., you at first are going to have some level of discomfort, some level of uncertainty of the outcome. It’s part of learning. We’ll figure part of that out in a little bit. Also, in social situations, meeting new people, will you be accepted? Will you be embarrassed? All those situations are outside the comfort zone.
A little bit of a warning, in a sense, because thinking about this, we get back to the concept mentioned in the first episode on causality; cause and effect of being in a situation or on the edge or outside of your comfort zone, you are going to have certain other things take effect. That is: when you’re uncomfortable, why is that? Your judgment is going to be a little off, you’re going to be in a risky, stressful, uncertain situation.
Think of the comfort zone as you get out of it, you’re pushing the envelope. Let’s think of in terms of a circle with a dot in the middle. Actually, when I was at one company, my boss brought me in for something and said: “Gee, I’m very concerned.” I was actually brought into that company to make changes. My boss said: “I want to make sure that people are not uncomfortable.” I said: -“May I borrow your whiteboard?” -“Yeah, sure.”
So I scratched off some of the junk that was on there, put a dot and a circle, with a dot right in the center of the circle. I said: “Think of this as a comfort zone. You don’t want me to just push slightly on the edge of it. You really want to make change, here.” He said: “Yes, absolutely.” I said: “Change that’s going to be new and different, that is going to make people uncomfortable.”
Needless to say, we soon realized what those implications were. This guy is really bright, and even somebody like that, people that don’t understand or talk about the comfort zone don’t really have a good feeling of what it is and what it means to step outside and get outside of it.
Going outside the comfort zone, that is part of learning, is going to be subject to the stress on you going outside into something new, the uncertainty about the outcome, and the risks you’re taking by going out there. The risks can be monetary or they could be just embarrassment. All this talk about getting outside the comfort zone, it’s not as easy as we all make it sound, but we can learn to deal with it, and it’s definitely worth doing.
Let me give you an example, in a sense, of how we adapt to getting outside the comfort zone. Something that I don’t really do, but is common out there in the world is people playing games; computer games online with iPads or whatever, and you see people doing that all the time. When they played their first game initially, I would imagine they were very uncomfortable. They would lose a lot, not know where they’re going, etc. But what happened? Why did they do that? Generally they did that, and usually because of social pressure, everybody else was playing the game. “Come on, come on, we got to go play. Hey, come on. You’re going to play that, aren’t you?” Whatever the thing is, even though it may have been uncomfortable, they went and did it anyway.
Over time, they became more and more comfortable with the game. Now even on a new game where their expectations of losing was increased, they became accepting of that concept of losing within that game, even if other people were around, looking at them, etc. “I’ll get better. I’ll know what I’m doing.”
We can use this same adaptation for other things. It may not necessarily be that all social pressure will get over it for us, but it could. If social pressure did get over that, but here, we need to get that acceptability within ourselves, keeping in mind the stress, the uncertainty, the risk of learning new things. It would probably be best by starting out by just pushing the envelope a little bit. That is: we have to learn to find some little level of discomfort.
Slowly, as we find that discomfort more acceptable, we’ll feel like being able to push and push a little bit more over time, eventually building up confidence which will replace some of the stress. Why? Because you do it a couple of times. Let’s say you learn some things in mathematics, you learn something in languages, whatever your cup of tea was and is going to be in the near future, and you start building up your confidence that: “I know I can do this,” even though you’ve never done it before because you’ve had a series of successes.
I’m going to take an aside story that becomes very important, but maybe the analogy helps out a little bit. A few days ago, I saw on TV something about some new program that they have in some schools, and they’re teaching this way because otherwise, students feel uncomfortable. What are we doing? Should we be teaching them to feel more comfortable, or should we be acclimating them to progress and to learning new things?
Basically, over time, as we’re repeating these things that become successful or more successful, the stress goes down, the confidence comes up, but then we find these new situations exciting challenges, rather than difficult situations. It can become, in social situations, that meeting new people becomes exciting, that networking can become exciting. Yes, we still may be a little apprehensive and not really like it when the person turns around and says: “Oh, thanks, but I’m busy right now.” You find that that’s okay because 7 out of 10 times, 6 out of 10 times, you meet somebody new.
How important is getting out of the comfort zone? I think we’ve seen that it’s really crucial for progress. At the same time, it’s not easy. It sounds easy, we all talk about it, but think about it. It’s generally uncomfortable, but it also can be scary, it can be humiliating, it can be intimidating, and there’s usually social risk attached to getting outside the comfort zone and meeting new people. What are going to be the impressions? But again, necessary for progress.
So, what do you do? Start in small steps or in less risky situations. Meeting people, networking where nobody knows you at a strange place. Push the envelope slowly at first. Over time, as confidence is built, you can see your positive outcomes and accept a little bit more disappointment because the overall weight of each tends to be positive and you see the progress.
Over time, you’ll be able to get further and further outside your comfort zone. Keep the idea in the back of your mind, because as you’re able to get further and further outside the comfort zone, the further and faster you can go in all respects—social, academic, business, etc.—the more success and the faster success you’ll see.
I’d like to caution again that while everybody talks about the comfort zone, getting outside, and doing it, remember: very few people really do it or do it well. They feel very comfortable within their own environment, their own social situation, etc. That gives you a little hint that this episode is really a prerequisite for a few other episodes that are going to be on and released very soon.
Please play around with it, think about it. Choose your five closest friends. Send me your comments, write down something on the website. Let me know what you’re thinking, both positive and negative. Examples, what have you done?
Thank you very much for listening. I appreciate it. Speak to you again soon.