Outside of our Comfort Zones

November 15, 2011

“Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”  ~Pablo Picasso

It almost feels a bit clichéd to write “the world is becoming more global”,  but virtually and in person we are interacting on a daily basis with more cultures and perspectives.  We can do this reactively, or we can prepare ourselves more proactively and be open to opportunities that can help affect positive social change.  Some of us have the benefit of having had experiences that stretch us, or a personality that likes challenges.  Others of us are more risk adverse or like our comfort zones, even when we don’t admit it.  But we can all use some helpful prompts and reminders to reach outside of our comfort zones.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Blog to learn: If you’re a blogger, write a blog about something you want to learn about – the blog will give you an excuse for some research, outreach and learning. (I included some information on the ‘complexity’ field in a recent blog, partly to learn more about it myself).
  • Learn a few phrases from another language – If you don’t already speak other languages, think about learning at least a few phrases from a culture that interests you.  You don’t have to become fluent (a significant project) but learn enough to begin to appreciate the unique aspects of some of the phrasing, or what it can mean to struggle to express yourself.
  • Read some fiction based in other countries. Here are two lists with good suggestions:  Top 10 African memoirs  and an assortment of favorites gathered by Penelope Carter and friends (many set in places around the world).
  • Follow in new directions: If you’re on Twitter, spend some time identifying people who look interesting to you but in a different field or area whose path you might never come across  without your outreach.  There are other social media platforms as well, but Twitter (where you can follow anyone without mutual acceptance) is a good way to approach people you do not yet know.

The options are really unlimited, the key is to consciously think about how to challenge yourself.  What’s on your list?