Comfort Zones Are for Expanding, Not Destroying

We’ve all heard it:

“Growth happens outside of your comfort zone”

I’ve even been one of the many people who have said it!

But I think it’s easy to lose an important aspect of growth as it relates to comfort zones. If we push too hard and take people too far outside their comfort zones, growth DOESN’T happen.

The sweet spot for growth is just outside a person’s comfort zone, where they can be both courageous AND safe. This is where the good stuff happens, where people can embrace new ideas and test new approaches all while maintaining the kind of safety that allows them to repeat the process if it doesn’t work the first time around.

The opposite, of course, is pushing people WAY outside their comfort zones (even taking pleasure in and bragging about doing so), and it’s an approach I fear we tend to default to when we want to change people’s minds about things.

It doesn’t work.

There are no quick fixes when it comes to people.

The last thing we should be doing is pushing, pulling, and destroying people’s sense of safety in the name of growth.

If you truly want to help people grow, do the work of helping people step just outside of their comfort zone (but not too far). Cater your approach to the individual. Ask people for feedback on how things are going. Adjust as necessary.

Help people EXPAND their comfort zones slowly but steadily.

We all need to grow.

But it should never come at the cost of psychological safety.