The Dead Zone!

When you and I come home and turn our thermostat up or down the equipment kicks in and the temperature adjusts to a nice comfortable temperature. You and I might call this our comfort zone. What is interesting is that HVAC professionals call this the Dead Zone!

When I graduated from college, I set some goals and a Five-year plan. Then life happened. I was promoted into Sales and if I wanted the job, I was going to have to move to St. Louis MO. (That was not in my plan). I was 24 years old and had been out of college about a year and a half. I had a core group of friends and I was comfortable. However, I wanted the experience so I moved 700 miles away to St. Louis.

I got there unpacked my bags, went to work the next day and …said OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE. You see, I wasn’t very good at my first job in selling, I was lonely, uncomfortable and well just miserable…Then I remembered that I liked Karate when I was in school so I found a club and began to experience some success. I changed jobs and had a little more success. In fact, I was looking to buy a home when my new company said… “John we’d like you to move to Denver,” Now this was in my Plan. I moved to Denver and 5 years after I wrote out that five-year plan, I achieved it. I was living in Denver as a professional, earning more than I had planned on and I had earned my black belt.  I would not have happened if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone.

So what is this Comfort Zone I’m referring to? Wikpedia the online Encyclopedia says it is an artificial set of mental boundaries we’ve set up. While we operate within those boundaries, we are comfortable and secure. The result can be that we become rigid and rule bound by these boundaries. Then, there will come a day when we know we need to change but we will be afraid to leave the comfort of our Comfort Zone and it will become our Dead Zone.

There is a law in the Universe called Entropy that says it is the natural order of things to degenerate into chaos or disorder. I believe that’s what happens when we fall into our comfort zones and become satisfied with life. When we don’t continuously push our limits and stretch, we start to move towards disorder.

Every time my life begins to get uncomfortable, Every time I experience what many call “Divine Discontent”, I discover that I have been resting in my comfort zone. For example, after I had realized that the five-year plan worked I said “Hey Life is good. I can relax.” Within 2 years, I had moved again to a new company in a new city with the woman that is now my wife. Talk about being forced out of the comfort zone. You see the company changed leaders and their goals and mine no longer matched. They closed the local office and it was either the Coast or unemployment. I was supremely unhappy; I had entered the Dead Zone. Therefore, the Universe gave me a nudge.

I like to think I am getting better: that I recognize when I am falling into ruts and that I need to shake things up. Let me share some thoughts on how we can avoid the Dead zone while enjoying the comfort zone:

1.    Recognize when you are in the comfort zone. You do this by noticing that there are only certain things you want to do or only certain ways you will do them.
2.    Decide what area of growth will enhance your life. Right now for me it’s spending more time developing C level relationships. Very Uncomfortable. When what you try doesn’t work the way you want, keep at it. Studies at the University of Chicago concluded that the highest achievers are those who consistently push themselves out of their comfort zones.
3.    Savor your arrival at a new comfort zone and a new performance level Then Start all over again.

When we make the commitment grow and move from one achievement to the next from one comfort zone to the next we never have time to enter the Dead Zone.

Take Good Care,

One Comment:

  1. Great thoughts, John.

    For so many people staying inside their comfort zone is almost a mantra. But we can never grow personally or professionally be staying inside that zone. One way to to “manage” this growth process is by having a buddy or coach who can help stretch you, while helping make you feel safe at the same time.

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