Meet Steve. He looks pretty happy in this picture, but this was the most uncomfortable week of his life.
I am not making this up. This is a true story.
Steve was my canoe partner on a week-long trip to Quetico National Park in Canada several years ago.
See, I did not know Steve before we embarked on this adventure, but half way thru day one, he told me he was terrified of water, aquaphobia.
I about fell out of the canoe.
This trip is all about water. In it, around it, fishing in it, swimming in it and canoeing on it. This trip was his coming out party so to say.
Actually, his wife thought this would be a good trip for him to confront his fear of water. Uh, I could think of better ways than a week long trip canoeing thru massive lakes all week. Let alone in a canoe.
Have you paddled a canoe? Canoe’s require some finesse and skill. Not only had Steve never been in a canoe, but the canoe was his means of transportation for the week.
We canoed 15 miles into the wilderness. We canoed 15 miles across many lakes to get back to civilization.
I am not exactly sure what he was thinking, other than, what have I gotten myself into.
This took courage. Real courage.
We had a good week, but Steve spent a lot of time in camp, not in the canoe on the water. I couldn’t believe it, but I took this picture on the one day he ventured out to go fishing. He wanted to catch a walleye.
We did that and I believe at that moment he forgot about the water, the canoe and where he was.
I am still not sure to this day how he managed to spend a week in and around water in a canoe. I think he had something to prove, to himself and his family.
I admire his courage, but it also reminded me nothing significant gets accomplished being comfortable.
Some of you may think, “What’s the big deal?” Well, this was a huge deal for Steve.
He completely stepped out of his comfort zone and spent the better part of a week canoeing in the wilderness. He was clearly uncomfortable.
I am reminded of this experience with Steve, almost every time I take on something that is uncomfortable.
A difficult conversation with a teenager.
A new project, filled with an ambitious goal.
Guiding a drift boat down a new river.
Over the last several months, Steve has come to mind many times.
I started a business. A business, which is 360 degrees from what I had done for the last 25 years. I am uncomfortable. More so than I have ever been. (Well, except the time I went to the Royal Gorge and could not walk across the bridge, too high.)
But what I have also noticed, that this is a time in my life where I have felt the most alive.
Routines are out the door. My past experiences are only mildly relevant. I am learning something new every day. I am trying something new every day.
I have freedom to pursue what is important to me. It is exciting and terrifying at the same time.
I am definitely out of my comfort zone and I love it.
Several months after the trip, I ran into Steve in town. He was not gushing about the canoe experience, but I could tell he had taken a few steps forward.
He seemed taller, smiled easily and recounted the walleye he caught. He beamed confidence and enthusiasm as he told me about a new business he was starting.
I have not seen Steve in many years, but I bet he never regrets those seven days canoeing in the wilderness.
Being comfortable is overrated.
When was the last time you left your comfort zone?
PS – If you are ready to get out of your comfort zone and pursue that dream of yours, go to my coaching page here and request a Lay of the Land questionnaire at the bottom of the page. Return it completed and I will schedule a session to get you pointed in the right direction.