Most athletes have heard this age-old maxim from a coach – “Walk it off.” The assumption in the voice says “You’re fine… right?” One wise word I actually heard on a basketball court – “If you’re not bleeding from your throat, than shut up.” Some coaches just have it, and can get players to perform at a higher level regardless of what they say, and some of them have no clue.
Good coaches know how far they can push their players without hurting them. They can pick up on an injury being avoided by an over-achiever, and can sense the hesitancy of the over-cautious. Acquiring this wisdom is knowing the difference between the comfort zone and the sweet spot.
The sweet spot means you’re in the zone – better yet, in YOUR zone. Good things happen when a player gets in it. It can rally an entire team off the bench in the most critical moments. This “zone” is not to be confused with the comfort zone. The comfort zone, while comfortable, can lead to idleness. In other words, you don’t grow there when you go there.
Disclaimer: I’m a big proponent of the seasonal comfort zone. God created the Sabbath for a reason. No one is so good that they never have to shut off and take a break.
Too much comfort has lead to partial ruin in my life on two occasions. My wife and I planted a church in 2008 and had raised well over 100% of the support we needed for the first year. Money was not the issue, but having too much too soon stole my urgency. Jesus doesn’t need money to accomplish anything and elects the poor in spirit as the benefactors of the earth. Having so much capital robbed me of my zeal for the hard work needed to successfully plant a church.
How do you know when you’re in a sweet spot or the comfort zone?
- Out of My Sweet Spot — Out of My Comfort Zone = Catastrophe
We’ve all been in places where everything is just off. Maybe you hate your job and you’re not even good at it. You can keep this up for a while, but it won’t last. A train wreck is just around the corner. You just need to pick the time to get off the train.
- In My Sweet Spot — In My Comfort Zone = Coasting
Maybe you’re in a good spot where you’re moderately productive and successful, but you’re coasting. Not all coasting is bad but are you managing the resources God gave you well? Have the flames of youthful ambition been on a cool down so long that you quit trying? Never forget that you have been given the opportunity to dream. A professor in college once asked the class, “If you could accomplish anything for God, and knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?” I’m asking you the same question right now. How many people could you help if you just dared to dream? Coasting won’t get you there.
- In My Sweet Spot — Out of My Comfort Zone = Creativity
This is what Guy Kawasaki calls “high and to the right”. Leaving the feather bed of the comfort zone for the sweet spot can seem like a lot of loss, but it’s the place where creativity thrives. There is some level of risk involved, but your personal growth is your best investment. Are you willing to bet on yourself? There is also some temporary pain involved in moving away from the comfort zone and into the sweet spot, but it’s nothing that hearing “Walk it off!”, from someone who believes in you, can’t fix.