Let’s take a moment to reflect on our professional and personal achievements over the past few years. While those years might have been extraordinarily challenging, are we still able to identify blossoming accomplishments made thanks to a moment of spontaneity or daring? Thanks to a risk we took? Or do we see a barren field of missed opportunities—a bed of bitter thorns instead of fragrant flowers?
The ability to be bold when the situation calls for it might seem impossible, especially when we can comfortably remain tucked within the tranquil garden of our comfort zone. After all, taking risks can be dangerous and, well, risky. But avoidance of risk can also prove dangerous. Entrepreneur Faisal Hoque suggests that aversion to risk is akin to self-sabotage. While fear of taking on a new challenge or pursuing a new opportunity might seem reasonable—why pursue that promotion when we can already afford our bills?–Hoque offers a reverberating rebuttal: “One feeling that lasts much longer and is more powerful than fear is regret.”
Army veteran and humanitarian leader Steve Haley argues in this TED Talk that walking only on the level ground of our comfort zones makes us increasingly afraid of the uneven jungle outside. He notes, “The longer you go without falling, the more scared you get of falling. You forget that you can just get back up.”
Taking risks isn’t about unwarranted boldness or bravado, but rather about refusing to drown in meticulous analysis and doubt. It’s about choosing to do something instead of settling for nothing. Doctor Oliver Page, MD, proposes that when we emerge from our comfort zone, we enter our growth zone. What do we lose by taking a single step out of our comfort zone? What can we gain? What adventures are waiting to be had on the other side of these self-imposed walls?
The garden of our comfort zone is perfectly manicured and tepid. But nothing new will grow from that eroded soil. Today, let’s take a hard look at our professional and personal lives and try to behold not what could have been, but what can yet be.
“Living with fear stops us taking risks, and if you don’t go out on the branch, you’re never going to get the best fruit.”
— Sarah Parish
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