I challenge the notion that "nothing
grows in your comfort zone". I contend that this, possibly
overused, aphorism spoken by motivational speakers is not at
all true and I'll give you my reasons for it.
Many aphorisms on their surface, when used in a certain
context, have that ring of truth. Aphorisms having a ring of
truth can be very effective in swaying an audience. There is
a technique in play here and it's called faith-prestige.
It's akin to hypnotic suggestion. The speaker can say almost
anything and you will find audience members nodding their
heads in agreement. Preachers use this technique all the
time by stating passages from the bible with no challenge by
audience members. And rightly so; because the congregation
is not there to challenge the speaker but rather to accept
the message. In many cases, other than in church, the
audience has paid to see the speaker in action and in so
doing, has already pre-programmed their collective minds to
accept the primary message as truth.
Faith-prestige comes into play even
before the audience sits in their seats. According to The
Amazing Kreskin in his book, "Secrets of the Amazing Kreskin",
on page 77 he states that
"The essential quality that makes suggestion work is
faith-prestige. Once that's established, the rest comes
easy. Put simply, faith-prestige is a conviction-like trust
in the suggester on the respect the subject feels for his
ability and authority. We see faith-prestige in action every
day. ...Faith-prestige can exist on a very large scale."
He goes on to say, "Most people are much more susceptible
to suggestion when they're part of a crowd than they would
be otherwise, and the larger the crowd, the more suggestible
it is. Part of the explanation is that the crowd
response seems to validate our own feelings, forced by
hundreds or thousands of crowd members that a particular
response is appropriate."
I would contend that as an audience member in a church or
otherwise, simply accepting the message of the speaker
without challenging it in your mind is part of a phenomenon
known as "groupthink". As part of a large group, your path
of least resistance is simply to accept the messages of the
speaker and move on so as not to appear contentious,
insensitive or out-of-place. Personally, I don't follow the
crowd. I prefer deeper critical thinking.
Have you been hit with the notion that "nothing
grows in your comfort zone?" Let's examine this a
little more closely. In fairness to the speaker, I
certainly understand what he or she is trying to accomplish
by using this short quip. They want you to realize that you
need to step out of the mindset of the personality you think
you are, to become someone else; someone who is more
successful, more wealthy, more famous, or more like them.
They want you to break the mold you've made for yourself and
make a new mold offering greater possibilities than you
thought could ever be likely for you. I get it. No pain no
gain. I understand the concept of breaking out of one's
shell to become a "better" personality and I understand that
this can be fearful, upsetting and "uncomfortable". I'm not
doubting for a minute that this is very true. Napoleon Hill
in his epic book, "Think and Grow Rich" once said that, "every
adversity has within it, the seed of an equivalent or
greater advantage." There are countless examples
in life of adversity leading to growth. So their point is
But the message is not for everyone. Moreover, the speaker
is actually selling you something and you are accepting it
knowingly (consciously) or unknowingly (subconsciously). The
aphorisms (many with half-truths) along with faith-prestige
are part of their toolbox. Nothing being sold in this world
today is "for everyone" and getting out of your comfort zone
is one of them, but when you do, you can expect something
positive to come of it. Having said this in the speaker's
favor I will now present another side of life that they may
To begin, we are born into a comfort zone. The warm, loving,
nurturing place where most of us were born is a comfort
zone. This is a place where babies start their lives in
safety and security without fear of harm. This is necessary
for an emotionally well adjusted child. The world is a scary
place and what mother or father would not want to protect
their child from all of the scary things in the world? From
these secure beginnings come all of the pain and pleasures
and possibilities that life has to offer.
Besides security, comfort zones also offer dreams and
excitement for the future. My own childhood was a comfort
zone. I look back on my childhood with fondness because it
provided the foundation of who I became as an adult. I was
able to dream about the future and only saw great things to
come for the country. (Reality didn't quite live up to those
dreams.) I was excited by all of the possibilities. I was
able to contemplate new ideas or things that I could invent
and was very creative. I read a lot and had a zest for
learning new things. In the environment of a stable and
loving family, I grew strong and fearless to some degree;
even to the point of overlooking possible pitfalls.
Of course, not everything was peachy. Yes
I had some fears and believed everyone else had them too.
Some of that was learned after suffering a few accidents and
some others just seemed to be there from the start. One
thing I CAN tell you is that LOVE of life and LOVE of
learning grew out of my comfort zone. Besides Love,
there is also Caring, Pleasure, and Serenity in my comfort
zone. Beauty grows in comfort zones. Flowers, plants and
trees... heck, life itself all grow in their respective
My parents took all of us kids on trips to the national
parks in the summer. From those wonderful experiences grew
even more positives; "Awe" at the Grand Canyon, Yosemite,
Sequoia, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks;
"Inspiration" at Mount Rushmore and Monticello; "Pride" at
the Kennedy Space Center and the Statue of Liberty; and
"Gratitude" at the Alamo and Independence Hall in
Philadelphia; they all grew from my comfort zone. We were
also taken to Disneyland and the Atlantic City Boardwalk
piers by our parents not to mention the beaches. "Joy" and
"Amusement" also grew from my comfort zone.
A quick internet search under "nothing grows in your
comfort zone" yields a lot of results. At the top of the
list was a site by a Dr. Jacki Jones who provided this
pictogram shown below:
what she includes in her comfort zone circle: Mediocre Life,
Surviving, Getting by, Fear, and Depression. Yet in her
text, even Dr. Jacki Jones describes your comfort zone as a
"Ahhh the ever familiar comfort zone. We all have one. It's
the place of stillness and quietness. It's a beautiful
place, a familiar place. We know where things are, we
understand how things are supposed to work. We rest well
there because it's where we can hide away from the
challenges of life. It's where things are normal."
Who's hiding? I say we rest well in our comfort zones
because the body needs to rest in comfort. Let's face it.
Even motivational speakers retreat to their comfort zones at
the end of the day. The challenges of life will be there for
us regardless of who we are. From that, there is no escape
except in death.
When I described my comfort zone, I didn't include: Mediocre
Life, Surviving, Getting by, Fear, and Depression. Instead I
found: Dreams, Excitement, Love, Caring, Pleasure, Serenity,
Beauty, Awe, Inspiration, Pride, Gratitude, Joy and
Amusement. And Dr. Jacki Jones has has placed some things
OUTSIDE the comfort zone circle that I would include INSIDE:
Security, Certainty, Fulfillment. These all came from my
Some would retort that that kind of comfort zone is not what
they are referring to. They would say that it pertains to
who you can become in your adult life. Perhaps so, but many
are already happy in their adult lives. What of writers,
authors, poets, nature and tour guides, painters, pilots,
and countless others who are already content and loving life
and living in great relationships? Do they too need to leave
this "beautiful" place? I believe that literally everyone
needs a comfort zone. The statement that nothing grows there
is simply incorrect because in fact, we ALL grow there. And
IF some of us didn't or don't have a comfort zone, I feel
very sad for you.
I once came home from a long bicycle ride
(in my adult life) after 2 am from being out on a dangerous
lonely back-road highway with cars whizzing by, not more
than a foot from me. By the time I got home, I realized that
I was NEVER MORE THANKFUL that I even had a home and a wife
who loved me. The feeling of love and comfort was so
overwhelming that I craved and devoured myself it it and
will never forget it.
But of course, the question is not if we have or have not a
comfort zone but whether anything grows there. Let's not
kill off the comfort zone by believing that nothing grows
there. The soul grows there and in the words of Khalil
Gabran in his work, "The Prophet," he says,
"Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have
found a truth."
Say not, "I have found the path of the soul."
Say rather, "I have met the soul walking upon my path."
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals."
Here's an aphorism for you to think about. "Just Because My
Path Is Different, Doesn't Mean I'm Lost." (healthyplace.com)