Archives for posts with tag: Comfort Zone

Here’s a phrase you hear quite a bit: I was in the zone. No you weren’t! Well, I doubt you really were.

This is different from another kind of business phrase using the word zone. We should get out of our comfort zone as much as we can to really grow.

Being in the zone is that rare event of moving or doing without necessarily knowing you’re doing it. It’s even rarer than having a purple patch, to coin another over-used term. It feels like gliding, this act of being unconsciously conscious.

I can only think of a handful of times when I’ve been in the zone.  For me it’s a bit like a state of shallow hypnosis, like when you’re driving on the motorway and you suddenly realise that you have no recollection of the previous 15 minutes. The active brain seems to step out and the thousands of hours of muscle memory take over. It happened once when I was coxing a Men’s Eight at rowing and we seemed to fly along the surface of the water. I played table tennis for 30 years and can remember only a few times when I played a rally where I thought ‘I don’t know how I got to that ball,’ or ‘ I didn’t know I even had that shot in my kitbag.’

In maybe 30 years of football I can’t ever remember being in the zone. I think it’s a very rare place. When someone tells you to ‘get in the zone’, they want you to concentrate better. You can’t simply get in the ‘real’ zone when the mood takes you. That’s why professional athletes spend years honing their skills so that they find themselves in that happy place as often as they can manage, and ideally when they most need to.

Here’s a thought for you.  Was there ever an incident when you genuinely got in the zone at work, when your brilliance made your customer, partner or colleague so successful and almost past you by? Somehow, it seems harder to achieve at work, which is a pity since it occupies most of us for most of 5 days out of 7.


Sometimes you just need a gentle push from people to get you outside of your comfort zone so that you can improve.

I remember when I learned to swim at the grand old age of 11. It was in an old pool in my home town of Stafford, England, in a centre which is long gone, as is the centre that replaced it. That’s how long ago it was, but I remember the lesson.

I was not long out of the Popeye-like arm flotation devices, but still the 15-yard swim was eluding my ‘doggy paddle’ and my red badge – the most preliminary of swim badges – was still not adorning my trunks. I’d gotten close a couple of times that evening, and some of the older lads and the instructors were willing me to make the length. The truth is, I’d bottled it and put my feet down a metre or from the shallow end.

‘Right,’ said the instructor, ‘this time, you’re going to start from the shallow end and finish at the deep end.’ Gulp! I was very anxious indeed, but knew I wouldn’t be left to flounder and that this time I had to make it. I did, to the delight of everyone. A right of passage negotiated, but it wouldn’t have happened without a mentor pushing me .

This for me is a useful reminder that we need the people we trust to push us, to get the most out of us. Conversely, this means that we as mentors and people in whom other people place their trust, need to push them as well – customers, partners and colleagues – if we truly have their interest at heart.