Years ago, some scientists did an experiment on a bullfrog. They threw a bullfrog into a container of boiling water, and the bullfrog instantly popped out of the container. Then they put the bullfrog into a container of cold water. The bullfrog liked it and stayed in the container. The scientists then turned on the heat at the bottom of the container. As the water got warmer, the bullfrog relaxed and took a nap. The bullfrog was so comfortable that it stayed on in the container and was ‘cooked’.
Many of us are like that; we are settled in our comfort zone, and we don’t take risks. Many students and even teachers come to me after my seminars to thank me personally. Usually I give the participants a chance to express their views at the end of the sessions. But very few come to the stage and say a few words. Many want to come but don’t have the courage to face the audience. Their hands get sweaty, heart pounds, and they get a weird feeling in their stomach. Most of them think: “Will I make any mistake? What will others think of me? What if I stutter? Fear stops them from expressing themselves.
Fear is natural to everyone. Whenever we start a new project, take up a new venture, or do something new there is usually a fear of failure. Unfortunately, most people let fear stop them from taking the necessary steps to realize their dreams. Successful people, on the other hand, feel the fear along with the rest of us but don’t let it keep them from doing what they want to do. They have learned to feel the fear and do it anyway.
The comfort zone heavily relies on social conditioning. It started with our parents telling us what to do and what not to, later our teachers told us what is right or wrong, then our friends told us what is acceptable and what is not. When we were young and behaved in a way our parents/teachers didn’t like, they scolded us, and even punished us.
This manifests in our fear of failure, being ridiculed, rejected, being looked down upon, or being judged negatively. This is very true of children. Most children, when they are in their pre-school days, don’t have such fears. But as they grow up they become conscious of what others think of them and they shrink to their comfort zone. Make a list of the things you are afraid of or uncomfortable doing, but know would be beneficial for you. Maybe fear of speaking in public? Asking doubts in class? Meeting new people? Sharing your feelings? Starting a project? Leading a group?
Within your comfort zone you won’t grow. Only when you get out of your comfort zone you begin to grow. Step out now; there is a whole world of opportunities awaiting you.
Denny Joseph is an International Corporate Trainer, Career Coach and a certified Neuro‐Linguistic Programme (NLP) practitioner. He is the author of Design Your Destiny and Speak With Confidence. He is the founder of Genius Minds Academy (GMA) in Bangalore and co-founder of Nexus Training International in Singapore.