A Coaching Power Tool Created by Freya Nishimura
(Transformational Coach, UNITED STATES)
I left Manila, Philippines in 1988 to go to the U.S. with only dreams and fears packed in my luggage. I was comfortable back “home” with all types of household help at our beck and call to do every little chore. I had a small retail business that allowed me to travel to Hongkong once a month to shop for new merchandise and I named it “SOLD OUT”. I had a business partner from a major airline whose spouse also invested in the business. But I was ready for some risks and stepping out of my comfort zone into the unknown and the discomfort of uncertainty, (though terrifying and unsettling) seemed the right thing to do at that time.
As I found then, and have countless times in the years since, no worthwhile aspiration can be accomplished from within our comfort zone.
First let us have a clear definition of COMFORT and RISK:
- a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint. “room for four people to travel in comfort”
- the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress. “a few words of comfort”
synonyms: consolation, solace, condolence, sympathy, commiseration
noun 1. situation involving exposure to danger.
“flouting the law was too much of a risk”
verb 2. expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.
“he risked his life to save his dog”
Synonyms: endanger, imperil, jeopardize, hazard, gamble
So, which gets you more, comfort or risk?
We are constantly reminded, that in an increasingly competitive, cautious and accelerated world, those who are willing to take risks, step out of their comfort zone and into the discomfort of uncertainty will be those who will reap the biggest rewards. But we are so accustomed to the comforts of “I cannot”, “It is difficult”, “I am okay where I am”, “or “I might be making a mistake”. It feels good to stay ensconced in the safety of our nets, where no one else can judge us or bother us. It is a “cop out”, and we forget that while others are busy trying new things, experiencing and learning, we are letting life pass us by while we cower in fear, protected by a cocoon that we have built around ourselves.
Comfort is what we seek, but do you think risk delivers it?
Think about it, what brought you the biggest change and pleasure in your life? Was it getting comfortable? Or was it getting out of being comfortable?
“Only in giving up the security of the known can we create new opportunity, build capability, and grow influence. As we do, “we expand the perimeter of our ‘Courage Zone’ and our confidence to take on bigger challenges in the future,” according to Margie Warrell, “Why Getting Comfortable with Discomfort is Crucial to Success.”
In short, we must be willing to get comfortable with the discomfort involved with taking risks.
Be careful here. Don’t take on others’ expectations of what you should do. Look at what you are passionate about, what you dream about every day. Others can guide and support you. It is you who has to take the risks.
Of course, being willing to take a risk doesn’t mean everything you try will work out. But as every successful person will tell you, it’s only by being willing to make mistakes and try something new that you can ever accomplish more than what’s been done before. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Nothing worthwhile has ever been accomplished with a guarantee of success.” Nothing ever will be.
As a culture, we continue to get more and more risk averse. Our parents worked hard to give us what they didn’t have. Marketers work hard at convincing us that having more is the path to comfort and pleasure. We’ve learned to choose comfort over risk. Why risk when we have what makes us feel good?
Is our generation more risk averse than our predecessors, the “traditionalists?”
While each had forged their own path to success – either up an organizational ladder or as an entrepreneur – the common thread of wisdom they all shared was that in today’s competitive and fast changing workplace, we can never hope to achieve success unless we’re willing to embrace change and risk the discomfort of failure.
What we can never get back is time. We can waste and lose our money, possessions and to some extent our health and get them back. But we will never get the time we lost back. This particularly scary when we are still wasting our time not taking the risks that serve us.
We are not talking about risk for risk’s sake. It’s not about adrenaline-risk addiction we see often with extreme sports or businesses that we know we may not have the capital for, and get ourselves in debt. These risks might not be stupid; they are often avoiding scarier risks. For some brave soul it might be easier to ski off cliffs than finish a degree. It’s not about taking any risk; it’s about taking the risks that move our lives forward.
This is where Coaching plays an important role, to help our clients focus on goals towards the future, to help them identify where they are right now, where they want to be next, and to help them move forward to magnificent levels.
Do I regret leaving my home country where I was comfortable to a foreign land where I had no home I can call my own?
In the beginning, I did. I grieved over what I have lost, then grief turned to challenge and it was good because I needed to let go of what I no longer had.
Regrets are a different breed. When a loss occurs because you didn’t take a risk causing you to miss an opportunity, that’s tough. It’s one thing to be sad about something you had no control over, it’s another thing to be sad over an opportunity NOT taken.
When you failed because you tried there is grief, yet there is a sense of accomplishment in trying. Like the old saying, “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved.” It is better to go for a goal and fail rather than to deal with never trying.
The psychologist Phil Zimbardo is quoted as saying, “Being privileged denies you access to some of the more interesting aspects of life.” When you have to work, you work. When you need to overcome an adversity, you learn to apply that behavior strategy to other situations.
Follow the energy
As a Coach, we can ask our clients where comfort will take them. Will more comfort give them the life they want or will risk? Allow them to play out the path they’re going down, play out other possible paths. Help them feel the fear, or know the fear – it will not leave until it is released. There is no better way to release it than to move forward as they are feeling it. Numbing out on a comfortable couch is not feeling the fear. The energy of fear will turn into excitement if they’re feeling it.
“There are two kinds of energy: anabolic and catabolic. Anabolic describes energy that is constructive, expanding, fueling, healing and growth-oriented. Anabolic energy helps move you forward and achieve positive, long-term, successful results, and is useful in leading others in the same direction. Using anabolic energy allows you to have a more compete and conscious view of what is going on around you, and to more easily come up with solutions and innovations.
Catabolic energy, on the other hand, is draining, resisting, and contracting energy. While catabolic energy provides you with an energetic boost to combat what you perceive to be a stressful situation, it also is distracting and acts like a blinder through which you only see a limited view of a situation, thus reducing the choices available to you. Though it may offer some short-term benefits, when used on a long term basis, it imparts mental emotional, and physical tolls that are potentially destructive to you, to your organization, and to all those around you.”
Bring it on
Imagine what it would be 5, 10, 20… years in your future if you haven’t taken risks? What it would be like if you have? Imagine a turning point in your life, such as your midlife crisis, your first son, your son going off to college. Where do you want to be at those places?
Fill your passion tank on a daily basis. Create a vision board with pictures of your dreams. Take action once per day to move those dreams forward. Use music, exercise, jumping up and down – use something to prime your excitement pump every day.
Encourage your client to close their eyes and imagine the life they will be living ten years from now. “What do you want to be doing? With whom? Who do you want to have become in the process?
So you just used a powerful tool we learned in ICA, VISUALIZATION. We just encouraged our client to visualize their dreams manifesting.
What about PHYSICALIZING them? What would that be like? Ask clients to physicalize them happening in their body. Feel them. Feel what achieving them would feel like. Where in your body do you particularly feel the excitement of doing and getting that dream? Let that feeling spread throughout their body. Let that heart pump with hope and love, and spirit!
For five minutes ask them to dance to their favorite high energy song as they imagine and feel their dream.
Dance with them as they move out of comfort into risk and toward their dreams.
As I enjoy my new title LIFE COACH, and majority of Baby Boomers may have retired, Generation X, Y, Z may be running businesses and corporations, and there will be people who have achieved extraordinary success. While we don’t know who they will be, one thing is sure – these are people who took risks and decided they will not stay inside their cocoon called comfort zone. Rather, they will be those who have continued to stretch themselves, even when things were going smoothly, and who have been willing to risk failure or looking foolish, knowing that the biggest risk they could have taken was not taking any risks at all.
The question is – will you be one of them?!
Owen Marcus, What Gets You More, Comfort or Risk?
Margie Warrell, “Why Getting Comfortable with Discomfort is Crucial to Success.”
Catabolic Versus Anabolic, Opening Horizons, Well Being Company