The Comfort Zone is a funny place. We hear all the time that people want to be in their Comfort Zones. That athletes excel when they are in their Comfort Zone. That world-class performance occurs inside Comfort Zones.
It’s a Paradox, really. All that talk about excellence inside the Comfort Zone isn’t wrong. It’s just not complete. Yes, world-class performance can and does take place inside a Comfort Zone. Yes, we do want our top performers to be allowed to perform in an environment that is best suited to their best performance. All true.
However, what is rarely explored is the Why or the How. Why is that environment a “Comfort Zone” for that particular performer? Was that star quarterback just born with the innate ability to perform well in freezing rain, with a hurt shoulder, and 300 pound defensive ends breathing down his neck? Is his ability to “read” a defense in a fraction of a second just something that is part of his DNA?
Or, did he learn those things. Did he hone that ability during countless hours of strength training, agility training, film study, competitive practice and repetition?
The thing is, the “zones” where all of the true “progress” is made aren’t comfortable at all. And, they are rarely “seen” by those observing. If you want to be good at something, in almost every case, you have to work at it. And not just when the bright lights are shining. By then, it’s too late. You have to work at it before the lights come on. In many cases, before you are asked or even allowed to do it. You have to prepare yourself for those performances. You have to do the hard work of preparation; endure the sweat and toil when “comfort” is nowhere to be found.
When you’ve done that, then the visible performance can be seen by others. The evidence of your progress. It will be on display. You will “make it look easy”. To the casual observer, you will perform in your Comfort Zone and it will be a “zone” that others wouldn’t call “comfortable” at all. They’ll think that for some reason, it’s comfortable to you. It won’t be. But you’ll make it look that way. Or, maybe it is comfortable to you. But because you made it so. Not because you were born that way. But because you know the truth…
You know what Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers knew when he said…
I can accomplish what others can’t.”