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Comfort Zone or Complacency Zone? (Please Stop Scaring Introverts)

I’m feeling the need to raise a subject I believe we all need to start thinking about: namely, the difference between Comfort Zone and Complacency Zone. That might seem like an academic distinction, but the problem is that when introverts hear “You have to get outside of your Comfort Zone in order to be successful,” they’re hearing “You […]

I’m feeling the need to raise a subject I believe we all need to start thinking about: namely, the difference between Comfort Zone and Complacency Zone.

That might seem like an academic distinction, but the problem is that when introverts hear “You have to get outside of your Comfort Zone in order to be successful,” they’re hearing “You have to become more like extroverts.”

What extroverts are really saying, I believe, is: “You have to get outside of your Complacency Zone.”

Now, we all need to get out of our Complacency Zone – that place where we hide in order to maintain the status quo as a way of feeling safe, instead of moving forward into the unknown with our business.

Complacency Zone activities (or should I say “in-activities”) include procrastinating, rationalizing and justifying our inaction, and listening to our inner critic as if it’s telling the truth about us.

That’s different from Comfort Zone. And telling introverts they need to function from outside their Comfort Zone creates a problem.

I’ve worked with introverts who realized after some point that “busting out of their comfort zone” was really their faking extroversion, and they couldn’t sustain it. And they didn’t feel they were playing to their strengths.

Here’s the thing: For extroverts, their Comfort Zone is the outer world. Because of their brain- and nervous system wiring, they’re geared for taking robust action in the world. They’re energized by new sights and sounds and lots of people, and they’re wired to think quickly on their feet.

So, for example, large networking events are within an extrovert’s Comfort Zone.

This means that when extroverts pursue business activities, they are operating from inside their Comfort Zone. And those sorts of activities comprise the current paradigm for how we’re “supposed” to show up for our business.

The problem is that for introverts, our Comfort Zone is inside our minds, and we’re wired for deep thinking and planning. Because of our brain- and nervous system wiring, we get drained and feel overwhelmed in large, noisy crowds; we take longer to get our thoughts together to communicate; and we often freeze when the spotlight is suddenly put on us.

We introverts function best when we’re alone or in very small gatherings where we know the other people well – or other situations where we can access our complex, nuanced thinking without contending with a lot of outer stimuli coming at us.

Now here’s the rub: Why should introverts have to do business by trying to operate from within the extrovert’s Comfort Zone?

I maintain that introverts need to operate from inside their own Comfort Zone in order to be best optimized for showing up for business – just as extroverts are operating from inside their Comfort Zone by diving headlong into the world.

The good news for introverts is that you CAN operate from inside your Comfort Zone and be successful in your business.

So, introverts, start giving some thought about what people, places, situations, and activities are within your Comfort Zone. Use your natural strength of strategic thinking to plan how you can operate from inside your Comfort Zone so you can function authentically, in accordance with your own brain- and nervous system wiring.

When the introverts I’ve worked with come to the realization that they can work from inside their Comfort Zone, they feel freed up to truly make progress and move forward with creativity and enthusiasm.

Just keep an eye on that darn Complacency Zone by connecting with your purpose and promising yourself you’ll move forward in ways that work with the way you’re made.

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