Monday, August 20, 2007

Letter from the Editor

Life and Times of JWN
The mine, Joe, Don, Ross
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

In the spirit of my current adventure in New York City, I am recommending a process I like to push myself through as often as possible. That is "Getting Out of MY Comfort Zone."

Presently, I am shacked up in Greenwich, Connecticut at my older brother, Chris Norman's apartment (this is actually quite comfortable). However, starting tomorrow I will be spending a few days getting lost in the city. I have some air mattresses and couches to sleep on, but no real plan of attack -- just some coffee, lunch, dinner, and drink dates with some old friends. Sometimes I like to just "wing it," if you will.

I have little exposure in the city, so this will be a good test of my ability to "make it happen" for myself. I'll let you know how it goes next week.

My thoughts on "getting out of your comfort zone" have been developed over quite a few years. When in high school, I consistently participated in conferences with hundreds of strangers because I knew that meeting them and interacting with them would help me learn more about myself.

The peak "out of my comfort zone" experience so far was my trip to Costa Rica between my junior and senior year of high school. In fact, when speaking about the trip, I often explain it as "hurling myself recklessly out of my comfort zone." I moved in with a family that did not speak English while my Spanish was sub par at best. As many of you know, I am one that enjoys communication, so this was a problem.

I started by immersing myself in the language through studying, writing, and interacting with the grandchildren of my host family (the Santamaria's). Then I progressed to conversations with the students and other host families (that spoke considerably slower than my family). By the end of my three week tenure in the gorgeous country, I was trying to pick up the lovely Costa Rican ladies (a story for another day).

After quite a bit of reflection on the experience many years ago, I developed a philosophy that I use to this day; break out of the mold and make it happen.

KEY FACT: When you challenge yourself with exposure to new places, ideas, or people, you learn a considerable amount about yourself.

"So Joseph, what did you learn in Costa Rica?"

I learned that no matter what I put myself into, or how prepared (or in this case, unprepared I am), I can always pull it off if I completely immerse myself in the task. That's important knowledge that I have used to help further develop my skill sets. Invaluable information that I would have never figured out if I had kept it "comfortable."

ACTION PLAN: Do something that makes you a little nervous or scared. GO for IT!!! Then reflect and figure out what you learned.

Best to you, ~Joseph