The Agony of Being Out of Your Comfort Zone

The Agony of Being Outside of Your Comfort Zone

I’ve just returned from a 7-day training.  I’ve known about this training for years.  Some people have been trying to get me to this training for over 10 years.  Everyone that I talked to that attended this training, however, said that it was the toughest thing they had ever done.  People drop out of this training every year, even though they’ve paid 1000’s of dollars for it.  Two or three people dropped out of my training before the week was ½ over.

Now, I am not talking about anything physical, like marathon training or a civilian version of Seal Training.  There was nothing physical at all.  I am talking about something some people fear more than death – Presenting in front of people.  This was a presenters training.

Here’s the thing, though, this was not a beginners training.  No, this was a training modelled after some of the most influential speakers in the world.  Most everyone there were already speakers and trainers of some sort.  I, myself, have been training for over 30 years.

This was an NLP trainers training.  NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming, which is a system of techniques, strategies, and concepts that was originally created on the idea of modelling excellence in others.  This training was a 7-day, in-depth training to not only teach but to ‘install’ the behavior of the best presenters and trainers on the planet.  You start standing up in front of people on the 1st day.

Yes, this does push your envelope and your buttons.  If you’ve ever been to toastmasters, you know that feedback is given for each time you speak.  Same here, and you will be up, speaking several times a day and the feedback, though not meant to be critical, will point out all the things you need to work on for the next time you get up in front of people, which could be in another hour.

This whole week was living outside your comfort zone, and that is ok.  I subscribe to the idea that you cannot learn and grow within your comfort zone.  People who rarely step outside of their comfort zone, rarely grow and learn or try new things.  It is too uncomfortable to do so.

Neuroscientists say that when you try new things you put your brain into unique situations that force it to really think, it stimulates creativity … [1]  Through research with mice and humans, scientists have found that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological “plasticity” and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss.[2]

You see, going outside of you comfort zone, not only helps you grow personally or professionally, it is also healthy for your brain.  It creates new synapses (or connections).  It stimulates your creativity.  I read somewhere that for older people, going out and having new experiences (driving around new places, seeing new things, …) may have stave off dementia.  At minimum, it will, in some form, be heathier than not experiencing new things.

So, how come we don’t like to do things outside of our comfort zone?  That is almost self-explanatory.  We are creatures of comfort, be it physical, mental, or spiritual.  This does not mean that we are lazy beings that don’t want to over-extend our selves.  Our comfort zone is comfortable because we know it.  Outside the comfort zone is the unknown.  For the most part, the unknown is scary.

If I’m going to try something new, something I’ve never done before, or something I’ve done but in a way I’ve never done before, there is a chance I may fail.  For many people, this is a problem.  They don’t want to fail.  In her book Mindset The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck describes someone with a fixed mindset as someone who may be great at somethings but will not try new things, because if they fail, it will impact how they think of themselves.  On the other hand, people with a growth mindset, will try new things and look for feedback as to how they could do better if it does not work out.  There is that word again – Growth.

Fixed Mindset – First, let’s look at some of the self-talk and thoughts of someone with a fixed mindset.

“Failure is the limit of my abilities”
“Feedback and criticism are personal”
“I stick to what I know”
“I don’t like to be challenged”
“I’m either good at it or I am not”

 Growth Mindset – Now, let us look at someone the self-talk and thoughts of someone who has a growth mindset.

“Failure is an opportunity to grow”
“Feedback is constructive”
“I like to try new things”
“Challenges help me grow”
“I can learn to do anything I want”

If someone who thinks in a fixed mindset, takes a course that is meant to challenge you, give you constant feedback, and will most likely identify flaws that need to be corrected, of course, they will be pushed to their limit and most likely break down.  If someone has the growth mindset, the challenges and feedback will be welcomed, and that person will most likely thrive.

“I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Yes, if you don’t have the right mindset, pushing your comfort zone can be hurtful to your self-image or your pride.  How can I get the right mindset, you may ask?  I’m happy you did.  You just must approach these experiences that ‘push the envelope’ as learning experiences.  Not a win or lose, pass or fail experience, but an experience where you have a chance to learn something, one way or another.

In my case, I approached this course like that.  I said, there is something here for me to learn that will help me become better at what I do.  Did I do well on all the exercises?  No, and I acquired some great feedback to help me do much better.  The final presentation was a pass/no pass event. (Notice the language where ‘final’ is not used.  I made one little mistake in a section where no mistakes were allowed.  I knew about this well ahead of time and still made it.  I did not pass and will correct this before moving on to the next phase, next year for the full certification.  This did not bother me.  Other than the one single mistake, the rest was fantastic.  The learning I acquired was incredible.  That is how you look at things.

Yes, on a “pass/fail” where passing is critical for your future, it can hurt.  You must go through the process over again, as I will.  And, you will, however, learn from your mistakes for not only the next time you do this, but probably for many times in the future.

Keep your mind open.  Open to new ideas, new challenges, and to the fact that you are always learning.


[1] “A Look at the Incredible Benefits of Trying New Things” Huffington Post, May 15, 2017

[2] “12 ways to keep your brain young” Harvard Health Publishing, Jan 29, 2020

Mindset is everything. What is yours?  You can learn more about Mindset in this article – Performance Mindset

If you need help with your mindset or you would like to bring us in to your company to help with the mindset of your employees we can do group coaching, workshops or individual VIP coaching.

Contact us through or email me at

8 thoughts on “The Agony of Being Out of Your Comfort Zone”

  1. It occurs to me: there are differences in willingness to have a growth mindset among those in different professions or with different work skills and experiences. Someone in sales is probably more likely to have or adopt a growth mindset than someone in accounting. It means a person in the latter group can differentiate themselves from their peers even more effectively by adopting that growth mindset and getting out of a comfort zone. Really insightful piece, Kevin.

    1. Paul, I am just seeing this again and wanted to finally reply. I like to think of mindset as being applicable in all parts of your life. not just job/career, but personal development, relationships, finance, and so on.
      You can have a fixed or growth mindset in an area. of course, a fixed mindset in personal development probably means no development, just by the definition. 🙂
      You mention “willingness” and that connotates choice. I feel that until someone sees that they are fixed in a mindset, they really don’t have a choice. Even then, some will feel negative about trying things they are not comfortable with. It can be difficult on your own to create a growth mindset. Not impossible, however. Some, just by being enlightened about the two mindsets, will choose to better themselves. Carol Dweck’s book is an eye opener.

    2. Thank you Paul. You are correct. Growth mindset can impact people differently depending on profession. It is, however, important for all of us.

  2. May I simply say what a comfort to discover somebody who genuinely knows what they are talking about over the internet. You actually understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people ought to check this out and understand this side of the story. I cant believe you arent more popular because you surely possess the gift.

  3. I was curious if you ever considered changing the structure of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe
    you could a little more in the way of content so people could
    connect with it better. Youve got an awful
    lot of text for only having one or two pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

How to Build Rapport With Anyone Easily Within Seconds.

January 28, 4:00-4:45 pM ET

What would it mean if you could make your client or prospect comfortable with you within seconds? What would it mean to you, if after a few moments the person you are with felt like they’ve known you for years, even if they just met you?

This is all very possible and much more when you learn Instant Rapport. Learn the basics of communication – face to face, on the phone, and even in email or text to make sure that you are not only creating rapport but also staying in it.

These methods for Instant Rapport that you will be learning are based on research and studies on both communications and psychology.


  • How to make strangers comfortable with you, almost instantly
  • How to ‘disarm’ irate Customers easily and turn them back around
  • The key traits of successful communicators
  • How to pace and lead a conversation
  • How to listen with more than just your ears

When you walk out of this training you will be armed with the strategies you need that will dramatically increase your odds of bringing on new clients, winning deals, making new friends easily and effortlessly.

The Language of Success

January 14, 4:00-4:45 pM ET

Have you ever been at a loss of words when you really needed them? Have you ever wanted to master language enough so you could influence easily when you wanted to?

Well this is the workshop where you can learn to master the Language of Success. Yes! There is a Language of Success, not only for what you say to others, but for what you say to yourself as well. This is the basis of the language skills used by people such as President Obama and President Clinton.

In this workshop you will:

  • Learn the language patterns that you need to be successful when speaking to others.
  • Learn how to identify specific words or phrases that others say and how to properly challenge them when needed – master the art of debate.
  • Learn the how your words influence yourself and your goals
  • And much more…

Can this be powerful in business relations? It sure can! This can be powerful whenever you are conversing with others, whether it’s professional or personal. Come learn the LANGUAGE of SUCCESS!

When you walk out of this training you will be armed with the strategies you need to become extremely influential when you speak. You will speak with confidence and with powerful words.