When was the last time you tried something completely new? Something so novel and different that you actually fired new synapses in your brain?
When was the last time you pushed yourself so far out of your comfort zone that you were able to experience a breakthrough either physically or emotionally, or maybe even spiritually?
I’ve recorded a short video on this subject. Prefer to read? Scroll down the blog post…
When was the last time you physically exerted yourself so much that you not only had a rush of endorphins, but you also ached in places you never knew you had, and felt a sense of accomplishment and strength?
And when was the last time you spent time in a place in nature that made you feel awe and wonder and perhaps even deep joy and gratitude at being human and alive?
I recently got to experience every one of those things in one morning, when I went skiing.
I was in Davos, attending a conference with the Network for Transformational Leaders when the opportunity arose.
Now, I’m originally from South Africa. I’ve never skied in my life. I’ve done some ice-skating, but that’s the closest I’ve got. So when I was invited to go skiing, I said, “Sure!”
And then things started getting interesting. Some of the slopes were closed, so we ended up being dropped off on a more advanced ski slope. I was with people I trusted, people who wanted me and my friend, Gina, who was skiing with me to do well. I was sure it would all be just fine.
Just as with life, what we expect to happen isn’t always what we get! Even though I pushed myself, I just couldn’t get it right. So what took experienced skiers three minutes, took Gina and I almost three hours! And that’s what allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and have a few breakthroughs.
When you physically exert yourself or try something new, that’s when you’re potentially able to get new insights.
That really happened for me. Plus I started to see my own behavioural patterns in the way I reacted to this situation.
First, it was very confronting for me. I’m generally concerned about my image. I’m generally concerned about getting things right, and I couldn’t get the skiing right without falling. I must’ve fallen about 30 times. I felt as if I looked like a complete dunce.
So it was difficult, and I had a lot of resistance until I realised that I had three options. First, I could walk up the slope. That was going to be a lot more difficult than going down. Second, I could go down. Third, I could just sit here and not do anything. That wouldn’t get anyone anywhere.
So Gina and I decided to slowly walk carefully and bum slide our way down. We giggled, we cried, we had realisations. I even had a few memories come up from the past – which can happen when you physically exert yourself.
That made self-care an absolute must. So I spent the evening on my own. I stretched, I wrote down some things that came up for me that were on my heart. I cried. And that’s all part of breaking through comfort zones.
We had a great presentation by Dr David Paul on the last day of the conference. He spoke about the neuroscience behind cognitive fitness and dealing with complex change. And one of the things we need to do to keep our brains growing is to learn new things and experience a sense of gratitude and awe.
So my question to you is, could you try something new this week?
Could you go out in nature and experience a feeling of awe and gratitude? Could you push yourself physically by trying something different or just going a little bit further than your comfort zone, and could you potentially have some kind of breakthrough in terms of doing that?
It’s so important, not just for our brains, but also for our overall wellbeing, energy and performance. And if we want to transform the world, we absolutely have to start with transforming ourselves.