One of the things I find most interesting about reading personal development books is the discovery of common themes with different terminologies. I sometimes wonder who invented the concept being explained, and who pinched it. I’d read something in a book and think how clever the author was, and then attend a seminar where a different speaker made the same presentation using different metaphors. And I’d think, “He nicked that off X!” before realising I didn’t really know who thought of it first -I’d just discovered the idea in that order. So I became more forgiving, and now I just explore the concepts more academically.
For example: two writers I respect wrote about how as individuals we tend to spend our time in our Comfort Zones, avoiding the strange and unexpected, and as a result we limit our personal growth. They identified how people go to exotic places on holiday and, on arrival, check the TV channels to ensure that what they get at home, they get there. We go to restaurants and order the same food. We watch a film several times. This ‘comfort zone’ mentality is comfortable as it means there are no threats, but it also means we don’t try things we otherwise might and – from a work perspective – we also avoid and even fight against doing work with which we are unfamiliar.
Anyway, these two writers wrote about Comfort Zones while another wrote about Circles of Concern (CofC) and Circles of Influence (CofI). Reading about that again the other day (in my comfort zone) I wondered if the Circle of Influence concept matched the Comfort Zone concept. The CofI is our area of experience where we have control over what is happening around us, whereas the CofC contains everything that we know about, but can’t do anything about. For example, the CofC contains the traffic jam, but the CofI contains our willingness or otherwise to accept it, seek and alternative route, or get really angry.
In both cases, the route to ‘better’ requires expansion: both require personal growth effort to make the zones bigger.
You need to expand your comfort zone if you are ever to improve professionally or personally, and you need to expand your Circle of Influence for the same reason. And the key to expanding either lies in pushing yourself just a little more than you otherwise might.
Which makes me think that both concepts are, as implied in the opening paragraphs, the same thing using different terminology. Realising that makes me feel clever. Doing something about it, even more so.
Next time you are offered an opportunity to leave your comfort zone, think of it less as an inconvenience and more as a chance to learn something new.
Hand on heart – I discovered that too late in my career to not think of it as the inconvenience.
But over time I did notice how those who get ahead are very often those who, consciously or otherwise, seemed willing to go the extra, uncomfortable mile. They learned, they developed. If I avoided such chances – I did not. And that is the advice I provide you, and which I will be providing my grandchildren – to grow, you have to stretch. And while stretching can sometimes be uncomfortable, it creates flexibility in thinking and creativity.
Having said that, the Detective Chief Inspector who said she was ‘delighted’ to be co-ordinating dog thefts at a national level during the Covid crisis was lying. Some stretches just ain’t worth it.