Why the “Comfort Zone” is Important for Growth

The “stretch zone”. This magical place that we constantly push people to be in. This is where people are introduced new skills and behaviors.

“This is where growth happens”.

“This is how you move up the ladder”.

Sure, Jan.

It’s how we keep people from staying in the “comfort zone”. This is a place where skills and abilities are familiar. It’s a badge of honor to continuously keep stretching yourself. It’s how you get promoted!

Too many times we view the comfort zone as a negative place to be. We may even associate “comfort” with “complacency”. There may be times when that is true when there is no perceived growth happening.

When people go into the stretch zone, there is a cognitive, emotional, and behavioral investment of energy. There is also discomfort in growth. People need to to recover from that.

The “comfort zone” is a crucial part of growth. People need to return to the comfort zone with their new abilities and skills and just be for a while. This helps build confidence in their new abilities. Then they can recharge their energy for the next stretch zone opportunity. It’s an ebb and flow between the two zones.

Keeping people in the stretch zone and selling it as a positive only pushes people into the panic zone. Survival, not growth, happens there.

Some people also prefer to stay in the comfort zone. We should celebrate that too. Forcing people to stretch is a good entry point into the panic zone.

Growth is unique to each of us. We also need to harness the power of “no” and develop boundaries to avoid being pushed into the panic zone.

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