In one of the most impacting blogs I have read recently, Michael Hyatt suggests that frequent trips outside our comfort zone are critical to our growth. Hyatt states that “the really important stuff happens outside your comfort zone.” Notice that he doesn’t say “SOME” really important stuff happens…or “OCCASIONALLY,” really important stuff happens…he says that “THE” really important stuff happens outside your comfort zone.
I’ve come to recognize the truth of this simple statement.
Like many people, I shy away from anything that causes me to be uncomfortable. I am not someone who enjoys surprises or new experiences. I prefer to stay within previously established parameters for my life. And when something happens to push me beyond those parameters, I’m not happy.
It’s these comfort zone parameters that have kept me from accomplishing so many things in my life. And now, my life is half over (I HOPE it’s only half over) and I feel like I have wasted so much time in my comfort zone, that I’m not completely sure how to get out of it.
So I’m doing something radical…
This Saturday, I run my first ever 5K race. For those of you who are metrically challenged, that’s 5,000 meters…or approximately 16,400 feet. That doesn’t sound too bad, until realize that this is a bit more than three miles…
THAT’S outside my comfort zone.
I’ve been running a couple of miles three times a week. I even got up to 2.5 miles once.
But THREE miles? Whoa…
I have also been thinking about the hundreds of other runners who will be there on Saturday…most of them have done this before. This is not new to them.
It’s new to me…and I’m intimidated. In fact, when I was running yesterday, I psyched myself out so bad that I almost stopped running and decided not to run in the race.
I’m such a weenie…
But I kept going back to Hyatt’s statement:
“The really important stuff happens outside your comfort zone.”
And I know that he’s right…
For me, this race is really important…
It signifies something that I never imagined being able to do. It acknowledges the fact that I am capable of learning, growing, and improving, even as I approach the receipt of my AARP card.
And it opens my mind to a world of possibilities…if I can run my first race at the age of 47, what else can I accomplish in my life?
Harland Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken at 65. Grandma Moses was 78 when she had her first art exhibition-selling small prints for just $2.00. Ronald Reagan was not elected to his first public office until he was 55, and Winston Churchill didn’t become Prime Minister of England until he was 62. Takichiro Mori (WHO?!?!?) was an economics professor until he left academia at age 55 to become a real estate investor in 1959. When Mori died in 1993, he was the world’s richest man with a net worth of around $13 billion. And Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first book until she was 65.
I don’t want to be a restaurateur or a painter. I’m not interested in politics, or being a billionaire (although MILLIONAIRE wouldn’t be so bad). I WOULD love to write and publish books…and I guess I still have a few years to work on that before I pass Laura’s age…
But it all starts by being willing to get outside my comfort zone…by risking failure and then risking failure again.
So I will run my race on Saturday. I will crowd in with all of the other runners who are more experienced than I am. I will be left in the dust by the majority of them.
And I won’t care.
Because I’m running.
And that’s something that’s going to happen outside my comfort zone.
Where the “really important stuff happens.”