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The Right Degree of Challenge

The Right Degree of Challenge

"Nothing good happens in the comfort zone" is only half of the story. It’s an easy phrase to throw around when you’re trying to motivate someone but it’s not the whole truth; Nothing good happens in the stress zone either.

The problem with phrases like “get out of your comfort zone” without context is that most people don’t practice it with balance - they’ll throw themselves into a stress → survive → stress → survive pattern. This is just flipping back and forth between two unsettled opposites with no rest or recovery. There is no balance , there is no time to breathe, there is no comfort.

I think people assume that rest (comfort) equals stagnation and immobilization; but immobilization is actually what happens in the stress → survival cycle. Immobilization is the natural result of pushing too hard and demanding too much.

Instead of generic statements like “get out of your comfort zone” let’s get specific about what we are saying.

I think that when people say “get out of your comfort zone” they’re suggesting that you need to stretch yourself in order to grow. That makes sense, right? Growth requires stretching, expanding, reaching, and discomfort. But stretching isn’t stress, and its counterpart isn’t survival; it’s savoring. The pattern we want to achieve in order to grow is stretch → savor → stretch → savor.

For change to occur, you need to feel safe enough to try something new. The risk of discomfort has to be relational to what you’re attempting to do. If the discomfort is out of proportion and I don’t feel safe, I won’t be able to stretch - it’ll be the stress → survive cycle. Yes, there needs to be a level of discomfort to stretch but again, the discomfort must be proportionate to the stretch.

Ask yourself: the last time you tried something new and weren’t successful, was the discomfort proportional? Did you feel safe enough to try something new?

I used to think Polyvagal Theory was a bit too woo-woo for me but then Vanessa Roberts became certified and I started doing some polyvagal intervention and holy shit, it’s amazing. And then I started learning about why it’s amazing and holy shit 💥 mind blown. Learning the difference between stress → survive and stretch → savor is the permission I’ve always needed to rest and care for myself. And realizing that pushing so hard that the result is collapse is not rest - it’s survival 💥

The Polyvagal intervention that I did (and that FounderWell offers) is SSP and I was able to experience what happened (inside my body without my cognitive intervention) when I tried to “power through” and the way my body signaled “too much → stress oncoming” and how that compared to the “just right” feeling of stretch and savor.  It's been life-changing - genuinely life-changing...

If you’re interested and want to learn more, reach out to me!

Startup life is hard but it doesn't have to be hard & lonely.

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The Right Degree of Challenge

The Right Degree of Challenge

"Nothing good happens in the comfort zone" is only half of the story. It’s an easy phrase to throw around when you’re trying to motivate someone but...

Read More