Guest Post by Chery Gegelman
Two years ago, my husband was invited to relocate to a part of the world we said we never wanted to live.
That invitation came during a time that I was actively encouraging clients, family and friends to leave their comfort zones and promising each of them that growth happens when you do!
If we said yes to that invitation…
The move would take us from a city filled with lots of green trees, green grass, and beautiful flowers to a brown, dusty, dry, desert.
And from a country that was founded on the belief that every human being has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… To a land that allows only one religion to be practiced; doesn’t allow women to drive; doesn’t have movie theatres; requires women to cover themselves with a long black cloak before going out in public and to have the permission of their male guardians to exit the country; and a long list of other regulations about how people interact with each other.
What would you do?
- We asked a lot of questions and did a lot of praying.
- And then I was reminded that this was an opportunity to “walk the talk.”
- So we agreed to leave our comfort zone.
However, even after we decided to make the most of the opportunity, I still worried…
- How would we keep our faith alive and flourishing?
- About the cloak I would be required to wear – would I feel invisible and somehow less valuable?
- Could our beloved, older dog handle the move physically and emotionally?
- What kind of food could we buy there? …And would it be safe to eat?
- Should we sell everything, put it in storage or try to move it?
- What kind of place would we live in?
- Would there be any green anywhere?
Some questions were answered with research, others by adjusting our expectations and our attitudes.
In spite of how hard it sounds, this is a snapshot of what we’ve gained in the year and a half since we arrived…
- We are mentally and emotionally stronger.
- We’ve had lots of adventure: We’ve touched the last remaining wonder of the ancient world, ridden camels, camped with Bedouins, taken hot air balloon rides, and had fish pedicures.
- History has come alive: We’ve walked on the ruins of ancient roads in Jordan, Italy and Egypt – all of which really did lead to Rome at one time!
- We’ve learned more about others and in that process learned more about ourselves: Our neighbors and friends are different colors, speak different native languages, and practice different traditions. We’ve eaten with them, learned from them, laughed, cried, cooked, and danced with them.
- Our knowledge and understanding of our world has grown: As we’ve met people we’ve looked at the globe with more interest, read more about their faith and the countries they are from.
So why does this matter to you?
Comfort zones come in all shapes and sizes.
And if you’re living so far inside your bubble that you aren’t doing anything new, you are missing out on life, and on growth.
This is a list of things that I know are outside of some people’s comfort zones…
- Admitting that as a titled leader you don’t have all of the answers
- Listening to the people in your organization, regardless of their title
- Seeking out the opinions of people who are likely to disagree with you
- Volunteering to help special needs adults/veterans/cancer patients/aids patients, etc.
- Driving in a big city
- Taking swimming lessons
- Changing a diaper
- Starting a business
- Instigating a dialog with someone about a difficult topic
- Asking for help
- Looking for a job
- Saying, “I love you”
If you find that you have lived too much of your life in a comfort zone, 2015 is just around the corner! Leaving that zone won’t be comfortable, it will take courage, at times it may feel terrifying, but you will grow!!!
To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
To expose feeling is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd, is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risk MUST be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave; he has forfeited freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
Chery Gegelman was once a frustrated visionary that learned how to instigate and lead system-wide change from the middle and the edge of organizations. Today she is the President of Giana Consulting, a speaker, author, consultant and expat that helps people and organizations lead through change to growth.