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Why leaders need to move out of their comfort zone

Why leaders need to move out of their comfort zone

Remember when you first left home? 

It felt exciting. Freedom. Independence. No one telling you what to do. 

But it was also a little bit scary. You were leaving your comfort zone of being looked after and were now going into the unknown. No one to do your laundry, cook your meals, pay your bills etc. You had to stand on your own two feet and at times it felt overwhelming or uncomfortable. 

With time and experience though, you adapted and learnt how to do it all. Before you knew it, you had developed your own home routine, grew as a person and loved living like an independent adult (although, it would be great if someone else still paid our bills!). 

It’s similar with leadership growth. 

Whether we want to hear it or not, the only way to grow as a leader is to step out of our comfort zone. It’s not easy and it’s not, well… comfortable. We have to be ready to trust the process and learn from those who have gone before us to achieve the success we want to reach and access our full potential.  

I’m writing this article to share with you one of the processes that I have personally followed to help you fully immerse yourselves in the process and continue to grow and adapt as future-fit leaders. 

This won’t happen once either. This will happen over and over again as you climb the ladder and take on new responsibilities and challenges.  

So, it’s best to get started with this work now as – like anything – the more you do it, the more confident you become and the faster you will achieve your goals. 

The Process to Courageous Leadership

The model above brilliantly demonstrates the process of moving from our ‘comfort zone’ to the ‘courageous zone’. 

Comfort zones are where the majority of us are created from. From when we were babies. A place of certainty, safety and comfort. As humans this is part of our core needs and the reason why we feel so at home here. So it’s completely natural to feel this.

However, in order to make changes and grow as a person and leader, we have to access our bravery and start the exploration of the next zone. 

To move through these zones it helps to know your goals and who you want to become as a leader. This will bring more connection and motivate you to overcome the challenges and keep moving towards the vision of your success.

Face the Fear

The first zone we are faced with is ‘fear’. Our brains are wired for survival, so as soon as it senses fear the voice in your head will be telling you to seek certainty and comfort.  Sound familiar? 

When you are in this zone you will potentially be aware of feeling a lack of self-confidence, finding excuses and being affected by the opinion of others. I want you to know this is totally normal and is a sign that you are heading in the right direction. 

To leverage the fear for growth you need to access your conscious mind in order to let your subconscious know that you are okay and that you can handle what is happening.  

This simply means coming off autopilot living, overriding your natural state and sticking with the feeling, allowing the anxiety to rise and be ok with it.  It will soon pass and you will be able to move to the next zone.  

Learn your own way 

The next zone we experience is ‘Learn’. This is where you will start to rise to the challenge and work out new solutions for yourself. You will advance your skill set, build your confidence and start to expand your zone of comfort. 

This part of the journey can feel quite liberating as you start to notice new ways of thinking and implementing. You are moving away from ‘group thinking’ and your mindset becomes more open, developing self-trust to make effective decisions and take the action needed. 

In my coaching sessions I call this the ‘Aha!’ moment. We all have the answers we need inside of us, it’s taking that leap of faith to trust yourself and learn that the biggest growth we have is in our set-backs. Building and developing the muscle of your mind to learn to move through these as opposed to just turning back to the comfort zone. 

Unleash your courage 

The final zone we arrive at is ‘Courage’. Now that we have discovered we have the tools and mindset, we find a new sense of purpose and confidence. We are also less likely to lose faith should we be faced with another challenge that feels daunting. 

In the courage zone we are able to accomplish objectives and set new, even bigger goals. We feel more aligned with our dreams and desires as we are actually taking action to fulfil them. This is where we see growth.

We know we are enough and have a new sense of certainty in ourself to know we can handle whatever comes our way. 

Are you ready to leave your comfort zone?

Are you ready to become the leader you know you can be? Are you ready to be the leader you wish you had and your team deserves? Yes, it will be uncomfortable – just like it was when leaving home for the first time – it’s just knowing and trusting that you can arrive at a place of being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. 

You may find you are resistant to this process due to the pandemic. We have just had a whole year of uncertainty and uncomfortableness, but this is why you need to access your courage and be the leader the world needs right now – now more than ever. 

Some people thrive on going big and setting a big challenges. It is also totally OK to start small. Ask yourself what is the one small challenge you can commit to right now? 

If you are ready and would like to know how a coach can guide you through this process, I’d love to know what you’re wanting to achieve and how together, with my help, we can get you there. 


Joanna Howes is an award winning international coach, behavioural expert, and No 1 best selling international co-author, who specialises in leadership and performance coaching. If this has resonated with you and you would like to explore how a coach can guide you to achieve your success, please book a free call using this link to discuss how Joanna can help you achieve your goals faster and easier than ever before. To see how else Joanna can help visit her website here.

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