How to be Comfortable Out of Your Comfort Zone

Creating self-awareness is fundamental for a successful leadership journey. Many people, however, struggle to understand this idea. Here is a simple framework that may help.

To start we will assess people along two simple criteria; what they know and what they do. Let’s call what they know their awareness or consciousness and what they do their competency level.

With these two variables, we can classify people into four categories as the four quadrants in the following picture suggest.

The first category is unconscious-incompetent. These are the innocent people who even don’t know what they don’t know. They are happy where they are and do not want to be bothered. Usually, you see young babies into this category but, surprisingly enough, you may find many matured adults here as well. We may call them Ignorant.

The second category is conscious-incompetent. This quadrant is a necessary step to make progress from quadrant 1 but some people stay here too long. These are the people who gain some knowledge but fail to take sufficient action. They live in their fantasies. There is a big gap in their ambition and action that keep them unfulfilled and unsatisfied. They spend most of their life in planning for life but hardly live their life. Let’s call them Dreamers.

The third category is conscious-competent. These are the people who pass quickly from the Dreamer stage and jump into action. They use their knowledge to execute their plans. These people are risk-takers. They don’t mind failing but moving on is top priority for them. We will can call them Adventurers.

The last category is unconscious-competent. These are the real-life leaders and masters. They have passed through the previous 3 stages of awareness. They worked so hard in quadrant 3 that their talent and competencies have reached a mastery level. Their craft becomes so natural that they even do not have to make any effort to deliver it. They are Accomplished.

Ignorant remain in their comfort zone because they don’t know and don’t care. But as soon as they enter quadrant 2, they come out of their comfort zone. Now they are looking for something they don’t have.

Naturally, at this stage, they should move into quadrant 3 and chase and hunt what they want. But this is not easy; they have to make lots of effort and take risks. Even in this quadrant, they remain out of their comfort zone.

If they do a good job in quadrant 3, they finally arrive in quadrant 4. Here, they have almost achieved and accomplished what they strived for. They are back in their comfort zone.

Unfortunately, few people ever reach to quadrant 4. Most keep struggling in quadrant 2 and 3.

While Adventurers work hard and take all the risks, most Dreamers remain in their dreams. They are intelligent people but use their wisdom to over-analyze every situation before taking any action. They are highly risk-conscious and prefer not to take any action over little doubt.

Are you a Dreamer or an Adventurer?

Only half of the Dreamers make it to quadrant 3 and only 1 out of 10 make it to quadrant 4. There is a statistical probability that you may be one of the Dreamers. These are established statistics and not expected to change.

What can be changed, however, is your will and desire to be among the top 10% who accomplish their vision. Your lack of action is not that you are lazy. It’s your lack of risk tolerance that hinders your progress.

Life is a journey that is all about risks. You have a choice to live your life like an Ignorant who never really start their life journey or live your life like an Adventurer who take all the risks but keep moving forward.

Failures are an essential part of success. Failures make you closer to the success. Do not waste your entire life planning for life. Now is the time to live your life like an Adventurer and ultimately you will arrive in quadrant 4 as an Accomplished.


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