The Comfort Zone Club, an inspiring group within the Power of Positivity app that provides a safe and welcoming space for like-minded individuals who are all striving for personal growth and positivity.
The Comfort Zone Club offers opportunities to start local book clubs and meet up with people who live near you, all while receiving the support and encouragement you need to stay motivated and focused on your journey.
In 1980, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker’s zany comedy Airplane! hit the theaters and became an overnight sensation. Almost instantly, it became so popular that it launched an entire new genre. To this day, it remains on the top of comedy movie lists, often claiming the title of “funniest movie ever made.”
It’s easy to look at the creators of Airplane! and decide that they owe their success to stepping outside of their Comfort Zone. After all, they did pack up a U-haul truck in the early 70s and moved from Wisconsin to Los Angeles to pursue their dream of making movies. They also took unprecedented risks by casting serious actors in comedic roles, and having them say outrageous lines like, “Have you seen a grown man naked?”. and “I take my coffee black like my men.”
But were they actually stepping outside of their Comfort Zone?
Or was something else taking place?
There’s an interesting relationship between stress and our self-confidence: When we have confidence in our own abilities, we don’t mind the stressors that are introduced into our life experiences. If you’re taking a class where you’re confident in your knowledge of the subject matter, for example, you don’t mind the occasional pop quiz.
When Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker (collectively known as ZAZ) insisted on directing Airplane! in 1979, they were breaking new ground. They were taking yet another risk. In fact, to this day, they remain the only trio in filmmaking history to direct a movie. It must have been extremely stressful to make such a big and unprecedented demand. Still, when we listen to interviews with ZAZ, we realize that even though they had never directed a movie before, they were not stepping outside of their Comfort Zone when they asked to direct Airplane! They were the only three people alive who could direct Airplane! the way that it needed to be directed, and they knew it! After a decade of making audiences laugh and refining their rules of comedy, their Comfort Zone had expanded to include directing a film like Airplane!
And before that, when they arrived in LA in 1972, they were confident in their ability to pave their own way in the world of comedy. Even though they were fresh out of college, they had spent the previous year building a theater in Madison, Wisconsin, and charging their fellow University of Madison students to watch their performances. Within one year, they wrote and performed two hilarious shows.
ZAZ was not moving to the big city with big dreams and bigger knots of anxiety in their stomachs. They were excited because they knew their material was great. They had already built a successful theater, and they knew they could do it again. Even though they were taking risks, they were operating inside of their Comfort Zone, not outside of it.
ZAZ expanded their collective Comfort Zone to include huge careers in comedy filmmaking by always operating within their Comfort Zone, not by pushing themselves outside of it. They took action that came natural to them in ways that felt comfortable and intuitive. Their success is built on their ability to remain true to their own individual and collective needs as they pursued their dreams. As a result, they always felt safe, confident, capable, and comfortable.
ZAZ’s success demonstrates that when we create from within our Comfort Zone, we set ourselves up for success. We win more often than we lose, which allows us to feel increasingly confident in our abilities, which then allows us to take necessary risks that can catapult us forward into the direction of our dreams.
In short, your innate desire to feel safe allows you to access your intuitive gifts easily and give more of yourself effortlessly to the world. This is the power of operating within your Comfort Zone.
Before she was Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot gave up on her dream of becoming a successful, working actress. She was tired of trying so hard and facing nothing but rejection. She was worried about the sacrifice her husband and young daughter were making only to see her chase a dream that was not leading anywhere. So, she decided that it was time to throw in the towel. Her plan was to return to Israel where she might act here and there, go back to school and work toward a sensible degree in a predictable career path. But before she left, she auditioned for a secret role.
She was in her home in Israel, far from the pressures of Hollywood, when she got a call from the studio asking her to do a screen test. At this point, she still didn’t know what the role was for which she was auditioning.
When she was finally told that the secret audition was for the role of Wonder Woman, it was during a time when she felt calm, grounded, and at peace. She was relaxed, living a life that felt natural and comfortable, allowing things to unfold. And because she felt content with her life, she didn’t have anything to lose.
Has this happened to you? Have you ever given up on your dream, just to have it knock on your door? Or stopped trying to solve a problem that kept you up at night for months, only to stumble onto a solution the very next day?
It’s easy to look at Gal Gadot’s experience and say, “She got lucky,” or “She had already paid her dues.” When we try very hard to attain a goal, it’s easy to assume that we reach it as a result of our hard work, regardless of when and how we get there. In the past, I’ve also made the same mistake of thinking that my success finally came when I least expected it, because of all the hard work I put toward it.
Every year, hundreds of people climb the highest peaks in the world. Some never make it back down, and those who do, find themselves changed by the experience. What most people don’t realize is how much time, dedication, and acclimation is required to achieve such a monumental task.
If you wanted to climb Mount Everest, for example, your training starts months before you ever set foot onto the Himalayan mountain range. During those arduous months before the climb, you’ll need to get in shape, build up endurance, acquire the right shoes, clothes, and gear, learn how to use all this new stuff, become comfortable hiking long distances, become familiar with the dangers you might encounter, find the right group to hike with, learn about common medical conditions, and the list goes on.
Then, after months of preparation, you’ll arrive at the base of Mount Everest, ready to climb. Yet, it’ll be another month and a half before you might summit. First you’ll have to acclimatize to the altitude and the harsh conditions of this massive mountain.
The acclimatization process is long and grueling. After you climb up to Base Camp, which is at 17,000 ft. elevation, you’ll stay there for one week before climbing to Camp 1 (20,000 ft.) where you’ll spend one night before climbing back down to Base Camp. Three days later, you’ll hike up to Camp 2 (21,000 ft.) where you’ll spend two nights before hiking back down to Base Camp. Five days later, you’ll climb up to Camp 2, spend the night, then climb to Base 3 (22,3000 ft.) the next day.
Depending on the expedition that you are with, you might spend up to a week at Camp 2 and climb several times back and forth to Camp 3 before climbing back down. Several days later, you’ll hike all the way down to around 12,500 ft. to take advantage of fresh oxygen and to strengthen your body. After recovering a few days at this lower altitude, you’ll hike back up to Base Camp where you’ll spend a few days.
Then, finally, after this month-long ordeal, you’re ready for your first attempt at the summit. This attempt will take one week, as you climb up the mountain steadily. During the final stretch, there is so little oxygen in the air that you’ll take three breaths for every step that you take. Every step brings you a bit closer to the top of the mountain or to the end of your ability to keep moving. This is where many people stop and freeze to death.
Even in the face of imminent danger and your body’s limitations, you keep moving with slow, steady steps. Weather and physical conditions permitting, months (if not years) after first deciding to climb this massive mountain, you finally make it to the summit. You spend a few minutes staring into the vastness in front of you before turning around and starting the short descent back to the safety of the lower bases.
If you’re not a mountain climber, voluntarily choosing to put yourself through so much in order to summit a mountain might seem extreme and almost unfathomable. Why would anyone do this?
I think the more interesting question is this: Isn’t it marvelous that through acclimation human beings are able to climb a mountain that stands 29,000 feet tall? There is truly no goal or desire that we cannot acclimate to.
Consequences of NOT acclimating when climbing the highest peaks of the world are dire. Many climbers die on these mountains every year, due to simple mistakes that turn fatal, events they did not anticipate, and also from not properly acclimating to the extreme circumstances they must face.
Those who want to summit Mount Everest are given very strict guidelines on how to acclimate to the thin air, low oxygen levels, the extreme cold, and harsh conditions of this deadly mountain. Still, every year, the mountain claims the lives of those who either didn’t acclimate properly to the conditions, make some fatal mistake, or find themselves in a condition or accident that they didn’t anticipate.
Imagine you’re at dinner when a childhood friend of yours shares a video of her skydiving. She talks about how exhilarating this experience was and how much she loved it. You exclaim, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to do that!” It’s true. You’ve thought about it many times, but never worked up the courage to actually put it on your schedule. It always felt too scary!
Inspired by your friend’s story, you call up the skydiving school that assisted her, and after a brief conversation, you make an appointment.
Once there, you meet with an instructor who has jumped thousands of times. Before they take you up, your instructor tells you about everything that is about to happen. He tells you about the plane, about the pilot, about the altitude, the parachutes, and how everything works. He tells you when the side door will open and what it’ll feel like when it does. He explains to you how you are to step to the door and when you’ll jump. You learn that your first jump will be strapped to him, that he’ll give you a signal when it’s time to pull the strap that will release the parachute, and that if you’re not able to, he will pull it himself.
Your fear starts to subside. You feel safe. Your friend recommended them. Their track record is impeccable. Nothing has gone wrong in years, maybe ever. You like and trust your instructor. You might be scared, but really, you’re excited. The energy that surges through you is one of anticipation. You’re alert, alive, and ready for the ride!
Once you jump, you don’t have words to describe the energy surging through you, and the moment your feet touch the ground, you’re ready to jump again! You’re hooked. You sign up for an extended program by the end of which you’ll be jumping alone. A few months later, skydiving becomes a regular thing in your life. You love it! You can’t imagine your life without it. It becomes easy, natural.
Within the years that follow, you become the one who skydives among your friends. You start giving others pointers and sharing your own personal tricks, techniques, and stunts. You start traveling the world in search of beautiful, exotic places to jump. You learn about all the different types of planes. You might even take some piloting classes. You feel comfortable when you’re in the air. When you jump, you’re no longer falling, you’re flying!
You are no longer the person who years ago was afraid of stepping onto the plane for her first jump. Through acclimation, skydiving became a part of your identity. At some point, you stopped being a person who occasionally skydives, you became a skydiver.
Consequences of Not acclimating when it comes to potentially dangerous activities such as jumping out of planes can be dire. Imagine if on that first jump, you were given a parachute and some instructions and then told to do the entire jump by yourself? The situation would instantly become infinitely more stressful and life threatening.