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The Importance Of Leaving Your Comfort Zone


A few weeks ago we talked about how everyone has the potential to achieve greatness if we can just overcome our ego and learn to learn. This week I want to expand on the last part, learning to learn. After we accept that we are not born special, and instead we have to work for it, we then have the task of learning ahead of us. How do we learn and grow? A few years ago I heard an actor/comedian named Bryan Callen say that the only way to learn is to constantly make yourself uncomfortable. That you have to shatter your comfort zone and force yourself into situations that you have never before encountered. For him it was taking on roles in movies that were unlike any other roles he had played before, and in return he felt that this forced him to grow not only as an actor but also as a person.

Lets take a second to think about how easy life is today. We have indoor plumbing, electricity, cold boxes to keep our food fresh, anything can be delivered to your door in a day, and we aren’t really apart of any natural food chain. It’s pretty easy to stay in a safe little bubble away from anything that makes you uncomfortable, but success does not come to the bubble dwellers. Bill Gates didn’t become the richest man in the world by staying in his comfort zone. He took chances, and I’m sure at times did so not knowing if it was going to turn out well but he took the chances nevertheless. The same can be said for anyone that has been successful.

Then what is it about uncomfortable situations that cause this growth? In my opinion it is the fact that being in an uncomfortable situation forces you to think in a way that you never have before. If forces you to be open to new ideas and perspectives that could help you solve the problem at hand. This exposure to new ideas and perspectives stays with you and they become experiences that you can draw from in the future, so then what was once an uncomfortable situation is now comfortable and manageable.

With all of that being said I cant think of a better tool for putting yourself into uncomfortable situations than Jiu Jitsu. Sure maybe I’m biased, but really think about what you’re doing when you are rolling during Jiu Jitsu. You are putting yourself in a situation where there is another human being trying to strangle you or break your limbs, whichever they can do first. This has to be one of the most stressful situations a person can encounter. Now, the beauty of Jiu Jitsu is that you can be taken right to the point of being choked unconscious, but then you tap the arm of the person applying the choke and they let go so that you can go through it all again.

At first when you start training there is of course going to be that little scared voice in your head saying what are we doing here? Why would you put us through this? We have to get out of here now! However, as time goes on and we continue to willingly put ourselves in these uncomfortable situations it becomes easier and easier to ignore this voice. This ability to shut up the frightened voice in our heads will facilitate learning. Eventually, sometimes, you get to be the one on the giving end of the choke, but that knowledge could not have been obtained without first putting yourself in that uncomfortable position.

When you become used to feelings of uncomfort in Jiu Jitsu you will notice that suddenly you feel at home when you encounter other uncomfortable situations in life. I think that this is so because the feeling of uncomfort is pretty much always the same. The causes may vary, but the feeling of being stressed out stays pretty consistent. Regardless of if your stress is coming from bills, relationships, or a human trying to rip your arm off its always that same voice in your head saying get us out of here! If you have found a way to quiet this voice from training then you should be able to quiet it when it shows up in other situations. When you can do this you will be able to take any stressful or uncomfortable situation and turn it into an opportunity to learn and to grow instead of retreating back to our comfort zone and staying stagnant.

Written by Zach Smith