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 well taken.
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 be missing.
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.
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 comfort
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
Notice 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
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 comfort zone.
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
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)