When I was a kid we moved around due to my Dad’s work. As a result I went to four primary schools in six years and I had to learn quickly how to adapt to new environments and conditions. Being the new kid didn’t come without its problems however.
When I arrived at St Patricks Primary School in Albury I was picked on by the class bully who demanded to fight me soon after I arrived. It would be my first ever fight and I was understandably nervous. When I turned up at the meeting point there were twenty or more kids there as well as the bully. He was calling me all sorts of names and the other kids were laughing nervously along with him.
This went on for a few minutes until I had had enough. I can still remember walking up to the bully and without saying a word, gave him a couple of hard shoves until he fell over and then I collapsed on top of him pinning him down so he couldn’t move. He submitted quickly and never bothered me again.
Fighting the class bully wasn’t nice, easy or fun. In fact I hated it. And I have hated fighting (and bullies) ever since. But I learned a valuable lesson that day. I had to confront a serious problem that was nasty and uncomfortable. I had to do it on my own because I didn’t have any friends yet. I had to be resilient. So I stepped up and hoped that I wouldn’t be hurt or embarrassed. In the end it worked out ok.
Looking back I realised that it was the first time I had ever stepped outside my comfort zone and confronted a situation that I would rather have avoided. It would have been easier not to show up and even now I’m not sure why I did. Maybe it was because I had seen how the bully had treated other kids that had run away from him. Maybe I just didn’t liked being picked on. Whatever the reason the lesson has stayed with me my entire life.
Whether you’re confronted by a school bully, facing a desperate business decision or analysing what could be the best opportunity of your life there is a good chance that you’ll have to deal with circumstances that you’ve never dealt with before. Most times you’ll be forced outside of your comfort zone as you decide whether to confront the issue or to avoid it. The choice is never simple or easy. But I have learned one important lesson in my life; the sweet victories rarely occur unless you are prepared to take risks and force yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Maybe author Neale Walsch nailed it when he said that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone?”