The very first workshop I had at Uncollege started with my instructor drawing circles on a whiteboard. They looked like this.
The middle is your comfort zone. These are the things you know well, aren’t challenged by, and can do easily. For example, if you are a runner and run a mile every day at the same time, you are staying in your comfort zone. You know you can do it, you’ve done it in the past, and it wouldn’t challenge you to do it again.
The outside covers the things that are so challenging, they exhaust, frustrate, and stress you. In this case, this would be like trying to run a marathon this weekend. You have no experience running that far or even anything close to it if you only run a mile a day. This would be too challenging for you and you would most likely give up after running a bit more than what you’re used to.
But the yellow part, the part in between the two is the ideal area for learning anything. If you are used to running a mile a day, what you could do in this phase is run a mile and a half tomorrow, then 2 miles the day after, and so on. It’s still a challenge, but it’s not too much for you to achieve.
Growth can only come from expanding your horizons, not staying in the safe zone.
It’s crucial to have the self-awareness to know what is out of your comfort zone enough to grow from, but not too far out that it ultimately is unachievable for you.