Jacky Leonard's blog

Every day's a school day

Categories:  Being on purpose, Training & Coaching, Life Balance and Wellbeing

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

When I gave up a proper job (my brother’s sentiment, not mine), I decided to redress my life balance and make time for more experiences.  Each year I allocate time in my diary to ‘play,’ experience new things and have adventures, in all areas of my life. I believe every day’s a school day, so continual development is really important to me, however I also believe this learning can come from a wide range of experiences, providing I keep my mind open to possibilities and say ‘yes’ to the opportunities that come my way. 

Prior to 2006, I had spent a lot of time in my comfort zone, without really knowing it.  I loved my job and the people I worked with, but I was becoming restless and frustrated and wasn’t quite sure why.  I’d spent time on extra-curricular activities such as co-leading expeditions, qualifying as a teacher and even walking on hot coals, but nothing was really hitting the mark.  After a lot of soul searching I realised I needed the challenge of pastures new and wanted to see if I could make a success of running my own business as a learning and development consultant and coach.  Not known for doing things by half, I decided I needed a physical, mental and emotional push, so I signed up for a 4-month ‘adventure’ at Plas y Brenin, encountering the fun and extremes of the mountains, lakes and rivers of North Wales. 

I’ve been involved in a number of sports at a performance level since childhood and have been able to master new skills quite quickly, but this was different.  The great outdoors offered a challenging array of activities, many of which can result in serious injury or death, if you aren’t confident, focussed, and mindful.  I found out a lot about myself.  I discovered I didn’t learn to do things as quickly as I had 10-15 years earlier, particularly when fear entered the equation.  I re-learned how embarrassing, painful and tough to take, failure can be.  I realised how important the ‘why’ is when choosing to apply yourself to anything.  I discovered, although the passing of the years had brought me greater experience, skills and greater knowledge, I’d noticed some deterioration e.g. my recovery rate, eyesight (features on maps are so small) and confidence. All useful lessons when starting a new venture and also invaluable from a coaching perspective.

Since then, I’ve had many adventures, at work and at play.  For example, as an introvert, the thought of giving presentations to large groups of people used to hurl me towards my panic zone.  In the words of Susan Jeffers, I decided to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ and now regularly find myself delivering sessions to hundreds of people.   I’ve discovered, sometimes uncomfortably, that there is no growth in comfort.  You have to expose yourself to a little embarrassment, pain and frustration and be willing to take a leap of faith, a calculated risk and still accept you’ll make a few mistakes along the way.  You have to be able to graciously accept feedback from others, as even when you may not always agree with their perspective, it will always be of value.  You have to be resilient in your approach, agile in your thinking and flexible in your attitude if you want to achieve anything.

I love the quote “a mind is like a parachute; it works best when it’s open.” That’s where you start by opening your mind to possibilities.  Saying ‘yes’ and giving others the chance to say ‘yes’ to you. 

So…

  • What’s your next challenge? 
  • What strides are you making to step outside the C zone into stretch to continue your learning journey?
  • What have you learned or rediscovered about yourself, or your business today?