Updated: Mar 17, 2020
In today's (corporate?) world we hear more and more some buzz-constructs that tend to become perceived as clichés: comfort zone, challenge yourself/others, think outside the box, resilience, perseverance and the list could easily continue on and on.
But... how much time to we actually invest into reflecting upon what is and is not true about those general concepts? Do we tend to consider them corporate bulls**t, hence we do not invest 1 single minute into what each buzz-construct would mean to each of us today?
I encourage those of you who resonate with the above to consider the following specific example...
According to Merriam-Webster, comfort is defined as a satisfying or enjoyable experience. Extrapolating, we can consider comfort zone that part of our life/experience/decision making process that constantly returns a satisfying or enjoyable experience to us. While at times this result can be achieved by doing something unexpected, I believe that most of the times we tend to seek those experiences that we know will return that satisfying or enjoyable experience. After all, we consider a success story one that provides us with a pleasant experience, isn't it?
Since we consider this example, let's see what stepping out of the comfort zone means. If we believe the above is true, then stepping out of the comfort zone means seeking or trying some experiences that might provide us back with an unpredictable not so satisfying or enjoyable experience; or similarly enjoyable experience; or a much more rewarding experience. With other words, it is about making a decision for which the end-results is not predictable, which implies a probability calculation upon our satisfaction. Simpler put, taking risks. If we do agree upon the above definitions we can go forward with our reasoning.
In our nowadays (corporate?) environment we have some objectives and some stretch assignments. While the objectives (in a normal environment) are achievable, it is those stretch assignments that are supposed to get us out of the comfort zone with an aspiration to achieve greater results. The keyword here is greater which can potentially mean two things: a) either you managed to increase your achievement against the objectives or b) you failed which means there was a significant learning for you, that makes you a better and more experienced person as a whole. In both scenarios there is a significant gain for everyone (corporation and individual) that can be leveraged down the road. In the vast majority of the situations, the aspiration of someone who is attempting to take you out of your comfort zone is to invest into your own experience, seniority and tenure. This is what I call reasonably unreasonable: unreasonable in order to ensure that you really try things that fuel your experience and reasonable enough to draw that thin line between a learning mindset based on failures and demotivation due to failures.
If you want to learn based on reasonably unreasonable experiences then I strongly recommend you talk to a coach. It all boils down to what you want for you.