Sunday, February 07, 2010

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

 Two things over the last few weeks have been challenging.

The first one was being asked to go into Melbourne Business School to facilitate a session as an assessment for future work with BHP. Obviously I have been engaged with MBS for quiet a few years now but this was the first time I have been asked to be involved in a formal process like this. To walk into a room with only a brief that included it's not about the content but rather how you facilitate a group around a topic of your choosing. It was only a small group of internal people from MBS but people who were assessing you, watching, observing, and processing how you might fit, develop and manage the future opportunities for them. Largely I have relied on intuition to do this work in the past. It has been based on developing from doing presentations over years as an athlete. MBS and a great guy Edmund King who is a program director there allowed me the opportunity to run workshops involving a goal setting process I created. He was trusting me with his groups and was great at providing feedback. This though was different. Why? Because to be formally assessed for a future program was new. Facilitation work is different to presenting greatly and still quiet different to running people through process like goal setting. It's not that I haven't facilitated sessions before but being assessed made it different. Have I said that enough times about being assessed. I don't know why it's different but knowing they have ideas about what they want to see, feel and experience. Contrast this to running a session where I sense I am there to engage, inspire and challenge people who often don't have a set criteria or assessment considerations in mind. For 30min I must admit I fumbled, confused a little and shifted in my seat. That's not to say I didn't feel like I didn't do reasonably well with the group, it was just I knew it was a stretch. A stretch that was great personally and one I am happy to say will lead to more learning from MBS and the chance to work on the program. What worked was my enthusiasim, presence and energy on the flip side though I struggle with some of the theory around facilitation and the ability to structure the conversation. I was out of my comfort zone and new it before during and after. What I was willing for though was that I was keen to be involved in more work with MBS and as such very willing to take the risk and at least do what I feel natural at even if that meant being really unsure about what was required of me.

So I was stretch then and glad to be but still I felt anxious about it at the time and actually was very keen to get the feedback and when I did, it was what I had felt and to be honest I need to hear.

The second time I have been out of my comfort zone has been down here in Tassie. Yes I know I chose to come down and train with a friend. Wurfy has been working to get back into form to head oversea for the racing season on the bike. I knew coming down here would be a challenge so it has not been something I didn't expect. Over the last three days I have been back into it and my body is waking up again. The level of work is not new but it has been a shock to the system. Yesterday in particular after some 5hrs of riding through some great country side and climbs I was starting to feel the pinch. Probably at the worst time. Half way up Mt Wellington I did crack but certainly had to ride at an intensity which would enable me to get to the top and home after. Riding with someone better is great because it means I have to operate not way above but certainly in a way which is a stretch. A few things have not helped and extra body weight is a factor. Have a few light weeks after Nationals and riding with someone who I believe is setting a standard for himself which is first class. He has not done it alone his coach is very particular about his workloads and intensities and I sense it is being done with purpose for a future which is about being at the top of his game and competitive with the best riders in the World. It's been three days and with a rest day today it will be three more after before I go home. I love the hills around here with Wurfy because even though I feel at times like I am out of my comfort zone I have already adapted, improved and learned a few things.

If it's imposed by others or self imposed, being out of the comfort zone is health. It's required for change and development. Getting stretch to the point of breaking is not helpful but neither is never being challenged. The balance between overreaching and stretching is important. Being put in situations your not ready for and having no support is need ideal either. Being set up for failure is a huge problem I see around in sport and business. We need to be honest with ourselves and others to ensure challenges aren't going to tear us apart. We need to be open to situations which we think are a little bit beyond us to be something great to try. We need support though no matter what the challenge or task.

The questions remain where is the line between comfortable and uncomfortable for each of us and who decides and influences it? What drives us to stay in our comfort zone and what drives us to get out of our comfort zone? What happens if we are in constant drive to be out of our comfort zone? What happens if we never stretch, overreach and explore the boundary between them?

To receive a call about the MBS BHP work and that I will get a chance to learn and be part of the program was great. To be done here with Wurfy at his home and training in this great place even with the challenges its something I relish and appreciate. Both things have challenged and both I feel a great sense of reward. Why wouldn't I get out of my comfort zone when the things that I can learn, experience and enjoy come alive though a process of stretching, adapting and transforming.

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