Yes, I’m all about helping INTROVERTS, and this story is no exception.
Are you tired of hearing extroverts say we must go outside our Comfort Zone to be successful? Well, one day an extroverted woman – we’ll call her Maude – told me she could understand the implicit shaming of that message because of a time when she was forced to go outside her own Comfort Zone.
One day, a friend of Maude’s told her she was unable to attend an all-day workshop that she’d already paid for.
“Will you go instead and tell me about it afterwards?” she begged.
The workshop promised amazing insights and breakthroughs, so Maude replied, “Sure, why not?”
As Maude related the story to me, her eyes widened and she shuddered. “When I got there, I found out it was a roomful of introverts – and we were expected to JOURNAL! I could feel my skin crawling the whole time!”
For the true introverts reading this, I can hear you saying, “Hey, journaling is inside my Comfort Zone!” And that’s the point.
Now, Maude is intrepid when it comes to taking action: confronting someone, traveling to an unknown place, diving into a new enterprise and making it happen, attending large conventions and networking events, making cold calls… the list goes on – and it includes all those things we’re told are on the other side of everyone’s Comfort Zone.
The truth is, those activities are INSIDE the extrovert’s Comfort Zone. Their brains are wired for taking action; they’re more gregarious; and they need the excitement of new experiences. The blood pathway in their brain naturally flows to the areas associated with the senses, which connect to the outer world. They tend to think by talking things out and figuring things out by doing and then tweaking.
Deep contemplation, thinking, and analyzing by writing are an introvert’s super-powers. The introvert’s longer and more complex blood pathway naturally flows to regions associated with deep thinking, self-reflection, memories, feelings, and making connections between ideas.
Bottom line: Extroverts are wired for the outer world, so the inner world of the mind is outside their Comfort Zone. Introverts are wired for the inner life of the mind, and not the outer world.
We can empathize with Maude’s dilemma. Imagine being expected to do something you’re simply not wired to do! Oh, wait! We are constantly being urged to do that very thing! It’s called “going outside your Comfort Zone”!
You wouldn’t urge Maude to suck it up and hunker down and “just do the journaling,” would you? You’d understand that this activity isn’t in her nature; it isn’t how she’s wired. She picks up her pen to fill a blank page and freezes. She feels utter resistance. If she tries to force it, she feels inauthentic – it just doesn’t feel right. To explore her thoughts and feelings, she needs to talk it out.
So next time our extrovert-biased culture puts out the “You must go outside your Comfort Zone” message, just smile and think of Maude.
If you’re curious about the difference between Comfort Zone and Complacency Zone, read this.