The more you’re willing to try new things, the more you’ll evolve and grow as a person. As kids we embrace this fully. We chase every interest imaginable much to the irritation of our parents who pay for karate lessons, guitar lessons, art classes, basketball leagues and just about everything else that captures out interest for even the slightest of moments.
Of course we lose interest in some of those things and eventually we get told “just pick something and stick with it.” For the most part this is good advice, until we get to adult life and stop picking things period because we’ve been busy “sticking with it” as far back as we can remember. But it’s only when we chase those crazy wild eyed dreams of ours that we get out of our comfort zones, those dreams materialize, and we grow.
Stand on the Edge of Your Comfort Zone If You Want to Get Past It
A few years ago I made a somewhat unsuccessful attempt at learning how to snowboard. I went about 10 times in one season because one of my best friends was an avid skier. But I never grew to like it. I eventually wrote it off because I hate the cold and as I’ve always said “Indian people and cold are an unnatural combo.” (not sure what happened in New Jersey). After nearly 3 years of surfing, I figured it was time to give it another go because I finally understood how to balance on a board. It didn’t hurt that one of my surfing buddies said “it’s like a wave that goes forever.” That was all it took to get me back on the mountain.
The first two times I went I was fairly uncomfortable. Even though I learned how to ride a board properly, I hesitated. My body was really stiff on every run and I wouldn’t allow myself to pick up very much speed. Despite attempting a few more challenging runs, I didn’t push too far past my comfort zone and found myself riding on my heel side on the steeper slopes. If you don’t know anything about snowboarding, imagine what it would be like if you could only turn left when you walked. Your ability to move would be somewhat limited.
Standing on the Edge
The second to last time I went, I decided to push myself a bit. I knew that it might mean taking a fall here and there, but I figured it would be worth it if got me past my comfort zone. Somebody once told me that snowboarding was all about edge control and after a fresh snow fall it finally made sense to me. Standing on the edge of your comfort zone is about finding a balance between courage and stupidity.
- If you went snowboarding for the first time and attempted to go bombing down a black diamond that would be stupid.
- If you take your first surf lesson and paddle out at the Bonzai pipeline, you’ll probably drown.
- If you quit your day job without a penny in the bank, that’s not risky. It’s stupid.
It’s all about your willingness to be slightly uncomfortable.
From Attachment to Extension
A few weeks ago, I went back to the mountains for what will unfortunately be final time this season thanks to lack of snow and something very odd happen. For the first time, I didn’t feel like the snowboard was something that was attached to my foot. It just felt like an extension of it. In fact it felt completely natural to have a board underneath my feet. This time when I went down the blue, I allowed myself to pick up speed and carved the way you’re supposed to when you ride a snowboard. I was comfortable in a way that I only am in the water. In that moment I realized that standing on the edge of my comfort zone had pushed me past it.
Everything that you are familiar with today was once unfamiliar territory. There was a time when you didn’t know how to walk, talk or read. But you do all of those things effortlessly now. If you took a similar approach to everything else you learn in life, you’d be amazed at how quickly you progress.
Author: Srinivas is the author of the Skool of Life, where he writes about surfing, personal development, and things you never learned in school but should have. You can follow him on twitter@skooloflife.