Flames pushed at the cold and dark as they eagerly devoured the campfire. In a ring around the fire, I sat with a group of friends. Behind us, the blackness stretched into the unknown. But in the midst of this circle of light and warmth, we shared a place of safety.
Across the circle, the fire danced on the shadowy outline of my friends. We shared this common moment, warmed by the fire and reassured by the light.
But then, from somewhere out there, in the blackness, came a blood-curdling shriek. Eyes quickly turned and a dark fear fell on the circle. Then, out of nowhere, something large and black swooped over our heads and disappeared back into the night. Time for bed.
This story is true; it happened to me when I was young. But a similar story happens to people all the time. It has probably even happened to you too.
I want to show you a picture. Here it is.
This is a picture of that campfire, only this time you are at the centre. The blue circle represents your comfort zone. In our story, this is the circle of friends who faced the warmth and light of the fire, with the darkness at their backs.
This comfort zone is a place of relative ease and security. It represents all those things in your world that are familiar to you. To some extent, you know how to navigate this area. There is a degree of warmth here, and you can see where you are.
But there is another zone behind you, or perhaps in front of you. This is your zone of potential (shown here in magenta). In our story, this zone is represented by the darkness at your back.
This zone of potential is a dark and foreboding place, and it takes courage to venture out there. Many people never do venture into this zone. It is a place of fear. It is the unknown – the concealed. The unexplored. The yet-to-be-discovered.
But, in various ways, it beckons. Sometimes it reaches into your comfort zone, swooping for your attention. It calls you to face your fear and to explore. Because, in some fearful way, you belong there.
These are times when your potential makes itself known. You get a momentary glimpse of what is possible for you. It coaxes you to come and follow, to explore, and to uncover.
But this is a call into darkness, away from the warmth and light of the fire. And it’s a call that, sadly, many people never heed.
I know something about you. You have lots of potential – far more than you realise. But to claim it, you must move out of your zone of comfort and into your zone of potential. And you must stay there. Gradually, your comfort zone will expand, but then your zone of potential may expand along with it.
I’ll tell you one reason why so many people never venture into their zone of potential. It’s because their change fitness isn’t what it should be. The limit of their comfort zone represents the limit of their change fitness.
So, if you ever stare out into the darkness and wonder who might be out there, I’ll tell you. It’s you. It’s the you you have the potential to become. It’s waiting for you to come and find it. Do you have to courage to do that?
Build your change fitness and discover a bigger you.
Written by Dr Steve Barlow