Beyond the comfort zone

Ok, so I’ve been at Cranfield for 3 months now. Term one is complete, Christmas has come and gone and term two has commenced. During this time I experienced snowfall for the first time; became an amateur touch rugby player, football player and salsa dancer; reinvigorated my interest in a number of international business issues; acquired an interest in economics; and best of all, built friendships with some truly talented, inspirational fellow students. My most crucial learning from term one concerns the dangers of my own comfort zone.

It may seem clichéd, but from day one the stage was set for us to stretch beyond our comfort zones and in so doing, experience more, learn more and hence, grow faster. I’m an upbeat, optimistic person, who has lived life predominantly in the present, facing challenges as they arise, and always finding happiness in the situations I found myself in. I’m not afraid of challenges and do accept opportunities as they arise, so I didn’t think I was constrained in any tangible way by my own comfort zone … until one of my MBA colleagues challenged this belief.

His view was simply that contentment is dangerous as it leads to complacency, while discomfort is desirable, as it compels us to push harder, try alternative approaches, and ultimately, achieve more. While I saw some merit in this perspective, it nonetheless conjured memories of the sadness I have felt in seeing friends forever failing to acknowledge and enjoy their own successes, due to their perpetual, singular focus on their next goal. As with most things in life, a balance is undoubtedly ideal. I felt compelled to experiment, so for the remainder of term, I attempted to suspend my fears and engage in activities I’d never been game to try before (eg touch rugby).

While I’m still unclear as to where to draw the line between contentment and challenge, I must confess that my term one experience was all the richer for this shift in attitude, not least with respect to the rich friendships I’ve built through reaching out, opening up and interacting on a deeper level with others.  In a more general sense, I’ve found that keeping my eyes on the horizon has extended my awareness of the possibilities surrounding me, yet this hasn’t dampened my appreciation for the innumerable blessings already active in my life. As term two commences I’m actually looking forward to pushing myself and seeing how much more I can achieve.