Move outside your comfort zone — at your own pace
“I’ve always believed that the pure of heart can go unharmed where others fear to tread.”
That is a quote from a fellow blogger, Sara. She had written it months ago and at the time, I retyped it and taped it next to my monitor so I could read it often and be reminded of its message. To me, it was a way of saying that moving outside of your comfort zone can be invigorating rather than agonizing. When you are clear about something (pure of heart), then the choices become easy and you can move forward instead of keeping the status quo that you aren’t happy with. You can acknowledge your fear but you don’t have to be bound by it.
My last post was about how I don’t think we change our core personalities. Some people believe that, some don’t. No matter what side of the fence you fall on, we all know that there are times in our lives and in our work when we get stuck. When things seem overwhelming. When we feel we have no control or no way to get beyond the obstacle.
And sometimes when we reach that point, we give up and decide we have to live with the situation. We can get paralyzed from our fear, thinking we have no options.
For those who watch this occurring with a friend, a co-worker, or an employee we manage, it is excruciatingly difficult, especially when you just know there is an “easy” solution. Those outside see the situation objectively, but we don’t always have the entire picture. We’re coming from our own perspective and how we would handle it, which is different from the way that might be best for another person.
Giving a person support is often the best thing to do, but not always the easiest. We want to blurt out what we think and tell them how easy it would be if they only did what we told them. However, we have to keep in mind that what is easy for us might be very difficult for them.
One excellent approach is to help them think through options they have. All the options—even if they seem silly or unrealistic. For each of the options, talk through the potential ramifications. Explore questions such as, “If you did this, what would happen? Is that what you want? How would that affect you? Personally? Professionally?” If you are the manager, it’s important to be clear on the work-related impact. Ultimately, they have to own the answer for any solution in order for it to be long-lasting.
Trust me, this is not easy to do. Just yesterday as Grace and I were finishing our walk, a mother and her two young sons approached. The boys were about 5 and 7 years old and they were immediately drawn to Grace, wanting to gush happiness and hugs all over her with their energetic bodies. Grace couldn’t get in the car fast enough! She barked just once which wasn’t so bad for her. I explained to the boys that she was scared. And as many times as that type of situation has happened, I still found myself saying to Grace, “It’s ok!” because I’m fully aware that no danger exists. Yet in her mind, based on her experience, she was thinking: “How many times do I have to tell you that it’s NOT ok. Those kids could be mean to me and I don’t want any part of it.”
The words that Sara wrote were just a small part of why she inspired me. She has a love for animals and nature; she has had some interesting life events, but mostly I admired her intellect and depth in exploring all these things. She had recently mentioned that she was having a difficult week, then unexpectedly and without notice, she removed her blogs from viewing. It was out of character for her because she seemed to enjoy them so much. I miss her. I’d love to fix whatever may be an issue for her right now, but perhaps she’s taking a page from Grace’s book and finding comfort under the covers while she reflects on it all. I trust she will make decisions that are right for her, at the right time.
Sure, there are times we need to push someone for their own good. Like when you’re inside a burning building. But most of the time, we need to work with the other person’s schedule.
We’d all be wise to take Sara’s advice and find what’s pure in our heart. We’d also be wise to remember that the individual is the only one who knows when that happens. Being patient through that process will yield better results than pushing them faster than they are ready to go.