Last month a management team I have been developing presented their achievements and results to the company Board. One of the participants felt sick, having been up since the early hours reviewing their presentation. She was physically trembling at the thought of having to stand up and share their experiences with the directors. This however was just one part of a transformational programme, where regular challenges encourage participants to step up and out of their comfort zone, resulting in increased confidence, growth in abilities and performance. You can put it to the test yourself and test out the benefits!
Age is no barrier to stepping outside of our comfort zone
It was amazing to read an article and watch a video of a 102-year old woman celebrating her birthday by leaping from her comfort zone. In an indoor skydive she embraced wind velocity higher than her age! Here was an ordinary older person becoming extraordinary when she forced herself out of her norm. She dared to do something new and afterwards revelled in that sky-high buzz (in her case literally!).
It’s about taking a challenge without any previous experience
I researched other examples to discover Bristol businesswoman, Jo Webster-Green, who opened her first shop against the odds without any retail management experience, no strategy or business plan. Jo shared her dream of running her own high street toy shop with her daughter and that’s exactly what she did and within 18 days she was opening the doors for business.
“I had never felt so sick in my life,” Jo says. “The unadulterated terror of getting into debt consumed my husband’s anxiety which fed into my own. I had barely any stock in the beginning, having to repurpose things and spread the merchandise out to fill the shelves! But my passion took over and when those doors opened I had never felt so excited about anything my entire life.”
Her Bristol shop, Little Treasures, has been open for over two years and has already expanded to larger premises. A brilliant example of how stepping outside your norm enables personal growth and business success.
Our brain benefits from stepping outside our comfort zone
Stepping out of our comfort zone and taking a challenge or learning a new skill is good for us on many fronts, including our brain. In a landmark 1998 study it was discovered that the human brain can create new brain cells, demonstrating its plasticity. Before that, the belief was that we were born with a fixed number of brain cells and any lost or damaged cells were not renewed or regenerated. However, we now know that when learning something new our brain increases its neural pathways and makes new connections. In fact, our brain is so malleable the cells physically alter when we challenge ourselves; for example, as we practice a new skill the stronger those neural connections become – and our neural pathways expand.
Benefit by making it a regular practice
The benefits of stepping out of our comfort zone and undertaking new challenges are significant. New opportunities can open up, we grow as a result of it, as does our brain, our confidence is boosted, it expands our aspirations and our sense of achievement increases. All of which can lead to enhanced performance and success as it did for the management group on the course and for Jo Webster-Green, providing good reasons for making it a regular practice.