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  • Ken Zen

Embrace Discomfort, Unlock Growth and Success


Scenic road cutting through picturesque countryside
Photo from Pexels

In recent years, there has been significant discourse surrounding the concept of the "comfort zone." Broadly speaking, a comfort zone is a self-imposed boundary encompassing familiar territory and tasks easily managed without encountering challenges. People often find solace and security within their comfort zones, using them as havens. However, remaining exclusively within this zone can lead to stagnation, complacency, and a lack of drive.


Leon, hailing from a third-tier city, exemplifies the rewards of venturing beyond one's comfort zone. Despite his background, he became the most followed signed author on a renowned platform within three months. Additionally, he published his new book within six months. Leon is willing to step out of his comfort zone and consistently challenge himself by venturing into new territories. While others seek respite after a busy day or utilize weekends for leisure activities, Leon chooses to engage in further studies. Instead of indulging in games during his rare free time, he actively participates in offline activities held in nearby cities.


In contrast to the average person's annual reading rate of 7.86 books, Leon reads ten books per week. He maintains a daily practice of writing informative articles on relevant topics. Despite residing in a third-tier city, he has managed to transcend the limitations typically associated with such locations. He has established a two-hour study circle, utilizing high-speed trains to access different cities within that time frame. Weekends are devoted to attending offline events, encompassing classes, reading sessions, and knowledge sharing.


Leon's pursuit of personal and professional growth goes beyond mere individuality. He actively acquires both industry-specific skills and additional competencies. His repertoire includes diverse areas such as doodling, workplace presentations, mind mapping, knowledge management, and column writing. Leon not only acquires theoretical knowledge but also makes practical applications. He starts with small-scale online presentations and gradually progresses to offline events, further enhancing his skill set within his industry.


A quote resonates with Leon's journey: "If you don't push yourself, you'll never know how good you are." By stepping outside his comfort zone and embracing new challenges, Leon has transcended his previous limitations and left his old job behind. He now enjoys the freedom to structure his time, pursue his passions, and genuinely feel comfortable in his endeavours.


It is crucial to recognize that remaining exclusively within one's comfort zone, sticking to familiar tasks, and avoiding progress can hinder personal growth. This approach may lead to losing essential competencies and hinder overall development. Only by venturing beyond the comfort zone, continuously exploring new realms, and tapping into one's unique potential can individuals ascend to higher positions, secure better working environments, exercise greater control over their time, and attain a genuine sense of comfort.


Jenny, on the other hand, serves as an illustration of the consequences of confining oneself to a comfort zone. From an early age, Jenny harboured a dislike for reading, finding essays challenging to write, application problems difficult to solve, and English vocabulary arduous to memorize. In short, she believed reading to be an arduous task.


Jenny's mother, Aunt Nicole, owned a grocery store. Jenny would assist her at the store after school, showcasing remarkable competence in merchandise sales, cashier duties, and inventory management tasks. Despite Aunt Nicole's insistence that Jenny should focus on her homework and leave the store, Jenny would persist, claiming that being at the grocery store was more comfortable than returning home for studies. Aunt Nicole, exasperated, expressed her disappointment, believing Jenny to be unsuited for reading.


Thus, while other students were writing essays or preparing college applications, Jenny continued assisting at the store. As a consequence, her academic performance suffered. After completing junior high school, Jenny found employment elsewhere through connections with relatives. Lacking advanced education and marketable skills, she was relegated to low-skilled manual labour, such as vegetable cutting in a large cafeteria. Her daily routine involved cutting hundreds of kilograms of vegetables, resulting in sore hands and shoulders. She also worked as a domestic helper, enduring chapped hands in the cold weather while engaging in dishwashing, cleaning, and window maintenance tasks. Furthermore, she worked as a porter for an engineering team, carrying heavy equipment on her shoulders, despite her petite frame. Reflecting on her choices, Jenny regretted shying away from the hardships of reading to seek comfort, ultimately leading to enduring more tremendous suffering in her latest endeavours.


Life presents two options: a journey that starts with sweetness and transitions to bitterness or a path that begins with bitterness and ultimately leads to sweetness. When sweetness precedes hardship, the subsequent bitterness becomes more pronounced. Conversely, when bitterness precedes reward, the ensuing sweetness becomes all the more precious.


To truly appreciate the comfort within one's comfort zone, one must be willing to endure the challenges that accompany stepping outside it. Only by embracing the hardships of learning new knowledge, challenging oneself, and continuously striving can individuals reap the rewards and experience absolute comfort.


Another example is a renowned gymnastics coach who selected a five-year-old prodigy from kindergarten to practice diving. Upon reaching the pool's edge, she hesitated and regretted not taking the plunge. However, she was forced to jump once by the coach and was subsequently chosen for further training.


Her journey in diving commenced at the training base. However, she faced a hurdle as she had protruding kneecaps that hindered her ability to achieve optimal aerial form. Her father would sit on her knees and press her legs to overcome this, causing considerable discomfort and sweat.


Despite her mother's desire for her to quit diving due to the pain it caused, the young prodigy remained resolute. She endured years of gruelling training, consistently keeping her eyes open during dives to enhance the spectacle of her acrobatics. She experienced numerous collisions during her dives, resulting in a ruptured retina in her right eye, leaving her only 20% vision compared to an average person.


This extraordinary athlete suffered two broken legs and endured long-term ankle injuries throughout her diving career. Despite the daunting challenges inherent in the sport, she persisted unwaveringly. By repeatedly stepping outside her comfort zone and enduring stress, water impacts, and physical injuries, she achieved remarkable breakthroughs in her diving skills, consistently securing top positions on the podium.


The path to mastery often entails enduring significant hardships. Remaining content within one's comfort zone, satisfied with the status quo, and coasting through life ultimately leads to a busy existence devoid of meaningful accomplishments. However, by venturing beyond the comfort zone, maintaining a diligent work ethic, and striving for excellence, individuals can forge a path toward a comfortable life due to their past efforts. In this world, nothing can be attained without exerting effort. Just as one must dig a well to fetch water or plant a tree to harvest fruit, the universe operates on a principle of fairness. It rewards those who invest sufficient effort. Only by dedicating oneself wholeheartedly will one be blessed with something beautiful.


Suppose one continually indulges in the comfort of their comfort zone and settles for mediocrity. In that case, the eventual consequence will be a heightened agony caused by the theft of one's laziness and complacency.


When talent alone falls short of fueling ambition, economic means fail to support one's dreams, and abilities prove insufficient in controlling desired outcomes, one must find the courage to leave the comfort zone. True solace and fulfilment can eventually be found by challenging oneself and persistently striving.


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