Walk with me outside the comfort zone

February 8th, 2011

The boys’ hockey school is losing some trainers at the end of this season. The two trainers – husband and wife – who work with the littlest kids, with the kids who have maybe never been on skates before and who begin the year unable to stand up and who end it at least able to walk across the ice on skate if not to properly glide across it, are leaving. She has been trying to leave since Small Boy started, actually, but the school has always begged her to stay and for two years she has but now she is standing firm. He is leaving at the end of the year; I don’t know if he has wanted to leave before this. The school is losing a third trainer as well, my favorite trainer, and I don’t know if that is common knowledge yet; I won’t even get into what a blow that will be. He’s an amazing trainer. I only know he’s leaving because the woman who trains the littlest ones called me to ask if I am interested in taking her place next year, and it came up in the conversation.

I’m interested. Hockey has given my family a lot over the years, and this school in particular has given Small Boy some wonderous things, and I’d like to give something back to the sport.

I’m also kind of terrified. My natural tendency is to curl inward and to stay in my comfort zone. I like to live in my head but this. This is out there. This is public. This is way outside my comfort zone. This is in Swiss-German. This is important. This is scary.

Tell me your stories about the time you went outside your comfort zone. How did you do it? How do you psych yourself up for it? How did it work out? Were you glad you did it? If it went badly, how long did the I Can’t Believe I Did That moment last? If it went badly, did you try again? Tell me your stories. I think I want to do this, but I’m awfully good at talking myself out of things. Help talk me into it.

8 Responses to “Walk with me outside the comfort zone”

  1. Trish on February 8, 2011 10:09 am

    #1 – when I shot my first wedding. I kept my expectations for myself (and for the bride and groom) completely realistic. Was honest about my ability (or lack thereof) but promised to do my best. Surprised everyone by doing a great job.

    #2 – when I applied for a job I had never done before. I convinced my employer and myself that I could do it. A year later, I was training other newbies.

    Both times I got such an enormous sense of satisfaction and pride that I was inspired to keep at it. I think you just have to accept that you will do the best you can do, and that your best will need to be good enough… and then it will be.

    Go on! Do it! Really, what’s the worst that can happen? Besides, the parents of the Swiss-German kids you’ll be teaching might love the fact that their kids will be able to practice their English whilst training with you.

  2. kristen Spina on February 8, 2011 2:46 pm

    For me, it was also a job-related thing. I had been a journalist forever, but long-complicated story needed to leave the magazine I was writing for at the time and was offered a job with a large PR firm to handle PR and marketing for one of their biggest clients. I knew the client well. Had covered their business during my tenure as a reporter, but to skip over to the other side? Terrifying. And I really had no clue. I was suddenly earning tons of money while being required to make everything easy and perfect and profitable for this larger-than-life, overly-demanding, sometimes crazy client. I was in way over my head… and I wasn’t too fond of the job.

    But over time, I learned a lot about myself, about handling enormous sums of someone else’s money, about how to tell the unpopular truth, and truly how to find that place within this less than ideal situation where I could do well. And I did do well, in spite of myself. I ended up a VP with an office and a view and an assistant and a team… And then I resigned.

    I don’t regret any of it. Most of all, I don’t regret pushing myself to stick with it. It wasn’t my thing, but it was a step in the journey to now. And that alone has value.

    I’m with Trish. You should do this.

  3. CoryQ (funkomatic on tiwtter) on February 8, 2011 4:54 pm

    I find most of the good things I have done in my life lay outside my comfort zone: Emabarking on the journey of being married (the best choice I ever made), submitted poetry (it’s asking for rejection time after time!), going to the UK in 2007 (I don’t travel that well).

    For me, the process of success starts with a minimization of barriers. What are the things that might keep you from success? I think when you take a strong look at that list, the individual barriers are low. If you look at the whole issue at once, those barroers stack up. So, take one step at a time. Break the fear down into little part and then devour those like morsels.

    The other part of starting to succeed is defining success and thereby failure as well. In the case of skating school, I think you could say you would succeed if you help just one kiddo to get up and move around on the ice. It is unhealthy and unreasonable to thin you will help every mite get out there and turn into speed demons on blades. By this smaller definition of success, there is little to not meet that goal.

    The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan.

    Add my voice to the rising dim saying that you are completley capable of doing this!

  4. pronetolaughter on February 8, 2011 5:21 pm

    I spent about 2 minutes spinning out a glass plate in glassblowing class, with just my hands on the pipe (okay, and a lot of coaching in my ear), and the serious high lasted a good 24 hours, and is revived every time I think of the plate (which I haven’t seen yet). And it was my second try, so, yes, I tried it again. In fact, I also collapsed the glass, had the expert fix it, and then tried again.

    So, yes! You might wish you never had on days here and there, but you’ll look back and be glad.

  5. rswb on February 9, 2011 9:59 am

    All the best things that have happened to me have involved me throwing myself at something in a way that I would not normally do. The most significant example is when I convinced Reto that he was in love with me (or at least that it was worth having a ludicrous international relationship to make sure of it). Even when it wasn’t certain that that would end up the extremely happy way that it eventually did, I was still so proud of myself for having been so honest, and I knew that even if everything went terribly wrong I wouldn’t regret a thing.

  6. Lara on February 9, 2011 12:10 pm

    You can do it, heck you have taken bigger chances than this: racing your bike in college, starting a relationship with a Swiss man and then moving to another country, doing what it took to get your boys (in another country!), submitting poetry to strangers! Clearly the trainer and the people she has spoken with think you would be marvelous at the job. If you want it, it is yours for the taking.

    It won’t go badly, most people, let’s face it, aren’t really all that competent. You’re smart and empathetic and you will probably be much harsher with yourself at first than any of the parents and there will likely be days when you think it isn’t going so well, but you will overcome those hurdles and you will have a great time and so will the kids. And if you don’t love it, you can bow out after a year or so, knowing that you were brave enough and cared enough to give it a chance.

  7. Claudia on February 9, 2011 8:06 pm

    I’ll give you a couple of specific examples of going way outside my comfort zone in a foreign language.
    The first was being asked to speak at our graduation from language school. I’d never spoken to a large group before (about 200 people), let alone in a language I felt I had a tenuous grip on at best, and in front of people who either had just as tenuous a grip or far less, and our instructors. Oh, and the mayor. I was petrified, but did it and even got laughs where I was supposed to.
    The second one was speaking to a two classes of 13-14 year-olds in Danish about San Francisco. It was their English class, so they were learning about SF, but didn’t speak English well enough to hear about it from me in English. I thought that would be a horribly tough audience, but it turned out far better. Everyone had a good time, including me.

    The other time I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone was agreeing to be a substitute English teacher at our local agricultural school. All the students were Romanian, so I couldn’t use Danish with them. It was very daunting in my mind, and I prepared as thoroughly as I could. When the first class came, I was wondering how in heck I’d make it through the hour, nevermind the whole week. But within 10 minutes, I was so comfortable and finding it easy to know what to say, how to present it, how to get everyone involved, and even have a bit of fun. Because of that first week, I decided to become a teacher full time.

  8. Bethany on February 22, 2011 6:36 pm

    Just last week I had a discomfort-zone experience when the girls’ school asked me to come and give a presentation about the U.S. I spent two full days alternately worrying and hyping myself up (and this was for PRESCHOOL, mind you), but the actual experience in the end didn’t warrant either. Sure, I got some of my verb tenses wrong, and I ended up singing “Old MacDonald” by myself thanks to a sudden lack of participation, but I actually had a good time. The biggest advantage to me doing it was the same one I’ve experienced each time I’ve taken on a similar challenge: I got to know people I didn’t before. In this case, it was some of the staff at my girls’ school. In other cases, it’s been English students or neighbors or my husband’s co-workers or fellow parents, and I’ve gotta say… no matter how terribly I think I did at whatever I was trying to do, I in no way regret trying.

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