There is great value in stepping outside your comfort zone. As I’ve grown into adulthood (I will be 35 this year), stepping outside my comfort zone has become a common theme. The amazing thing about it is that I feel like I grow as a person with each experience. Below are three examples that I hope will motivate YOU to try something that’s outside your comfort zone!
In 2013, I started a nonprofit that provides activities-based peer support for people with limb loss/difference called LIM359. This group encourages people to try new activities within a safe environment. Because of LIM359, I have witnessed the elation of other people who are trying new activities for the first time. I have also gotten to experience new things myself – from rock climbing to axe throwing, and various things in between. In fact, LIM359 is the reason I tried swimming for the first time (as an adult) back in 2014. I really had no desire to swim. However, I was the one who had designated a swimming clinic as our activity for the month and I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I put on my tankini and jumped in the pool. I ended having so much fun! This swimming clinic is what ultimately propelled me to my first spring triathlon, and eventually my first Ironman last summer! I had no idea what my begrudging participation in that swimming clinic would lead to, and although the outcome wasn’t immediate, the end result was worth the wait (and the discomfort of getting outside my comfort zone)!
Last fall, I had the opportunity to step onto the TEDxCherryCreek Stage to share my Ironman journey with an audience of 500 people. I had given a few smaller talks about my life before, but never on a stage like TEDx… so this was way outside my comfort zone. About 30 seconds before I walked out onto the big red TEDx dot, I felt a huge wave of nerves wash over me. Surprisingly, once I walked out from behind the curtain and saw the audience, all I felt was energized and excited, not nervous at all. Somehow, I felt like that red dot was right where I was supposed to be in that moment, and I took a deep breath and started telling my story. Through my experience doing TEDx, I made some new amazing friends who are powerhouse women and also learned something new about myself – I actually really like that type of speaking and I like sharing my stories to empower and motivate others. While I don’t have the classic story about overcoming my disability because I’ve never thought of it as something I had to overcome, I now realize my stories have value without that component. Had I stayed within my comfort zone I never would have applied for TEDx, and I never would have discovered this about myself.
Watch my full TEDx Talk Here:
The third example I want to share is my recent trip to Costa Rica for a surf and yoga retreat. Like swimming, I actually had no real desire to try surfing, but got talked into the trip because… Costa Rica. Going to the beach and the ocean is one of the rare times in life when I find my prosthesis annoying, but my husband, Zach, recently made me a special leg for the water. When I first started out, my prosthetic foot was “sticking” to the foam-top surfboard, so I wasn’t able to make any adjustments to my foot placement once I put it down on the board during my “pop up.” I was getting frustrated, but instead of letting it beat me, I decided to try putting duct tape on the bottom of my foot to see if that would give me the ability to move the foot a little more without being too slippery. To my great delight, it worked! The first day I tried it I just put two strips of tape on the bottom of my foot so I could easily remove it if it didn’t work. Shortly before it was time for the end of our lesson, I was doing very poorly again, and then I realized the ocean had taken my duct tape. I called it for the day and taped the foot much more securely with duct tape for the following day. It worked like a charm and I had a couple pretty awesome days of popping up on the board and riding the fluff to the shore after that. Stepping outside my comfort zone to try surfing reminded me that it’s more important to find solutions rather than allowing the excuses to rule our thoughts and actions.
Next time you are scared to try something new I challenge you to ask yourself, “Is this fear rational?” If it’s irrational, then I say go for it and you may just surprise yourself by what you can do when you step outside your comfort zone!
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