“The best is the enemy of good.”

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Voltaire

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“My body is a parlor trick called survival.”

Jayy Dodd

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This is about comfort zones and being your best.

I think we discuss comfort zones, incorrectly, in 2 ways:

  • It’s not stepping out, its pushing out
  • It’s not fear of new, its fear of losing

 

Pushing out.

“Step out of your comfort zone” is the common wisdom. It’s not wise. It’s stupid. Comfort zones, for the most part, are a reflection of what we are good at. Maybe not great but the stuff that enables us to insure we aren’t village idiots. The size of your comfort zone is mostly a reflection of your risk taking attitude. That said. If you ‘step out’, you’ve (a) lost any possible advantage you may have to actually be successful outside and (b) even if successful and happy it is, well, outside your comfort zone and 90% of people are most successful day in and day out IN their comfort zone.

We should seek to ‘push out’ our comfort zone. It’s kind of like boundaries of learning and how that works except this is about what you are comfortable with not how you learn something new. Just accept that trying new things isn’t well rounded or neat & tidy, its uneven attempts in which you selectively attach yourself to something and try it. You push out in one area of your zone to stretch.

 

Fear of losing.

In a zero sum game attitude world your comfort zone is driven by a specific type of fear – “if I give up too much I will regress, not just lose or get no reward.’

Let’s address the elephant in the room … we all, all of us, believe we deserve some things. Yeah. Deserve. Part of that ‘deserve’ is keeping what we have.as we accumulate things, salary, wealth, ownership, pride, experience, etc., we start believing it is ours – we have earned it therefore it is our to keep. This gets even trickier for most of us because we tend to not let go of anything that has given us pleasure in the past <even if it is no longer pleasurable to us now>. Anyway. We tend to build our comfort zone around those accumulated things.

There are 2 slightly insidious aspects to this.

First is a belief you will always accumulate more simply because you have something. It’s a different version of hedonistic adaptation in that it’s not that because you have something you inevitably want more but rather because you have earned something you will inevitably get more.

Second is, in this particular discussion, your comfort zone doesn’t guarantee mediocrity or sameness it simply suggests you never attain the best version of who you could be. In fact. I would argue in this version of comfort zone you are more likely to touch upon your worst version than your best.

That’s what zero sum does. Instinctually in the daily grind of Life you will act in ways to insure what is in your comfort zone at the beginning will be in the comfort zone in the end. You may not view this is ‘worst version of self’ but it is clearly not going to arc your behavior toward the best version of yourself.

I won’t suggest changing your attitude (although you should) but rather suggest seeking your best version doesn’t mean stepping out of your comfort zone but rather pushing it out … making it bigger.

Zones have a tendency to dull us. Dull us from possible magic. I purposefully called it magic because it does have a sense of good as well as intangible trickery. Once senses are sharpened they cannot be dulled and in a world which has a nasty tendency to dull our senses … well … that may be the best argument for embracing the idea that magic does exist in the world and that is worth the effort to try and find it.

 

Lastly.

The least discussed aspect in all of our trite comfort-‘zonism’ is survival. Let me point out that not all uncomfortable is created equal and not all exploration is meaningful and regardless of comfort & exploration, situations are often situations of survival. And if that sounds dramatic I meant it to. Comfort zones are the places in which we believe we are most likely to survive the onslaught of Life. It’s our place to crouch and react when shit hits the fan. A comfort zone more often than not, isn’t about living life to its fullest it’s about not dying.

 

And that permits me to go back to platitudes. I am sure everyone has either heard of or read “Good to Great.” Well. Voltaire only beat that book by about 200 years and he thought up that shit all while trying not to die in a duel or get his head chopped off.

Two points with his quote.

First is my personal soapbox. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it isn’t smart. I didn’t need an entire book to tell me about good to great. Voltaire said it in one line.

Second is the truth behind the thought. You can settle for good or you can do something better. I don’t need a book for that either. But what the books don’t tell you is everything you do is grounded in survival. Do, or don’t do, based on an assessment f whether I survive or what I have survives or what is important to me survives. If that sounds defensive, it should. If that sounds lie it is grounded in what someone could call your ‘comfort zone’, it is.

 

Comfort zones, in general, are your body’s parlor trick. Your parlor trick for survival. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek to do some uncomfortable things but it does mean you probably shouldn’t be stepping out of you zone but rather pushing it out selectively.

Stepping out increases odds of dying. Pushing out increases odds of surviving. Simple as that.

 

 

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Written by Bruce