Early one beautiful summer morning, a middle-aged family man took his boat out to sea for a day of fishing and relaxation. After a short while, a fierce storm arose, causing strong winds and ferocious waves. The unanticipated change in weather caught the man by surprise. Although he was an experienced captain, he began to wonder whether or not he would see his family again.
However, his silent plea for help seemed to have been answered when he heard a soft gentle voice from within say, “You can make it. Just believe and remain alert.” He welcomed the encouraging words. The positive reassurance provided needed support during his hour of desperation. Motivated by the voice from within, the man worked feverishly to keep the huge waves from capsizing his vessel. Determined to overcome his sudden adversity, he shouted with a loud confident bellow to the forces of nature, “I will not die but live to see land again.” Every few minutes thereafter, his heart repeated the same cry over and over again, “You must return home safely to your family.”
As midday approached, the violent storm ceased and the clear blue sea returned to a serene state. With no perils of the sea to contend with, and land in his sight at the horizon, the man made another declaration. This time, with a sigh of relief, he shouted, “It’s over. Now I can finally relax!” After plotting his course, the same relentless cry was repeated in his mind, “You must return home safely to your family.” He reclined into a comfortable position in the captain’s seat, anticipating a trouble-free journey home.
After a short while, there was a thunderous explosion as he came to within a few yards from the shore. Suddenly, water began to flood the hull of his boat. He could not believe what was happening. His heart began to pound rapidly. In a twinkling of an eye, his positive outlook diminished. The confidence he once possessed was now suffocated by fear.
This time there was no response from within to his silent plea for help. Thoughts of failure and death raced through his perplexed mind. He stood motionless.
As he submerged into the dark, cool water, his heart’s cry was repeated for the last time, “You must return home safely to your family.” Ironically, the man really wanted to live, but he made no effort to break through the bondage of fear. Helpless and confused, he began to sink into the dark ocean. As the water level approached his chest, he whispered with his last breath, “Why is this happening to me?”
This parable highlights several important things about Comfort Zones that people tend to overlook. It is very important that you do not substitute comfortable living for living in a comfort zone. There is a subtle but distinct difference between the two. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs helps to distinguish between the two states of being. Maslow’s theory suggested that at the core of man’s existence is a need to satisfy basic needs such as, food, shelter, security, water and rest. Comfort living relates to satisfying these basic needs. In other words, when you are happy and at peace with the quality and quantity of your basic needs, then you are living comfortably.
However, Maslow continues by suggesting that there is a higher level of satisfaction in life that relates to psychological and self-fulfillment needs. In this regard, it is important to understand that comfort zones impact your self-esteem and self-fulfillment in life by preventing you from maximizing your full potential. At the core of your existence is an internal yearning to express your true nature, find your purpose for living while maximizing your God given talents, gifts and abilities. When you settle into a comfort zone, it is impossible to be everything you are destined to be and to do everything you are destined to do.
Comfort zones hijack your dreams and desires of the heart. Notice that comfort zones hijack your dreams and desires not remove them. Have you experienced persistent thoughts related to pursuing a particular path in life that coincide with your talents, abilities and gifts? Although the reasons for not pursuing these recurring thoughts may temporarily justify your inaction, the end result of not choosing the path related to your purpose for living is discontentment. Comfort zones tend to provide temporary safe havens that appear to be void of challenges and resistance.
However, whenever you are unable to either express or release your true potential, then mental barriers are formed to justify why it is not possible to pursue a certain path in life related to your dreams and desires. Theses mental barriers serve as restraints that prevent you from moving in the direction of satisfying the desires of the heart. Unknowingly, the man in the parable slipped into a comfort zone when he decided to sit back and take it easy. Og Mandino once said, “Work as though you would live forever, and live as though you would die today. Go another mile!” In most cases, going the extra mile requires you to fight through the urges to stop, quit or postpone from pursuing your dreams for an indefinite period of time.
Why is this important? It is important because your purpose for living is related to an assignment that requires your full commitment from start to finish. In other words, your natural gifts make you unique and special. They are intended to point you in a direction of peace of mind and fulfillment. Unfortunately, comfort zones halt the process of self-fulfillment and causes you question your true value stored in the seed of your potential. This is a new social issue, as hundreds of years ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote about this matter as he observed individuals fail to find their purpose in life. He wrote:
Lost Time is never found again; and what we call Time enough, always proves little enough: Let us then up and be doing, and doing to the Purpose; so by Diligence shall we do more with less Perplexity.
Although Franklin wrote and spoke in a way that is somewhat unfamiliar to us in this progressed culture, it is still possible to understand and learn from his words of wisdom. His words admonish us to value time because we are given a few years to be productive. He goes on to say that the time we are given in life should be used to pursue our purpose for living. In this regard, when we pursue our purpose with passion and diligence then we are less likely to be perplexed about our accomplishments.
Are you perplexed about the direction your life has taken and with the things you have yet to accomplish? Do you feel as though your dreams and desires are being held hostage by circumstances, social expectations or limitations? Do you sense that there is more you should do and can do with your life but you are afraid to step out?
If you answered “Yes” to the questions, then perhaps you have unknowingly fallen into a comfort zone. Do not be dismayed. One of the greatest leaders of our time, offered these words of instructions, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do keep moving forward.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr spoke these words. His life was defined by Purpose, Potential and Destiny. Guess What? The same applies for your life. You were born for a purpose and equipped with potential to fulfill your destiny.
Earl Nightingale once said, “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” Don’t let comfort zones hijack your life and hold your satisfaction in life for ransom. Commit to moving forward one step at a time. Keep pressing, keep moving, keep doing, keep believing and keep achieving. The secret to breaking free from your personal comfort zone is PASSION, PERSISTENCE, PERSEVERANCE, PROACTIVITY and PRODUCTION. Decide to move forward today.
[written by John Gipson #casualsuperstar}