This space between what we do and what we dream of is the ‘comfort zone’ gap that can only be achieved by doing one thing; stepping out of our comfort zone and stepping into our greatness. It is much easier said than done and can involve taking huge (but calculated) risks.
During the Cold War, it was President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, who coined the term ‘brinkmanship’, to describe how countries might push affairs to the very brink of disaster so that they can achieve the best possible outcome. President John F. Kennedy demonstrated brinkmanship during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, narrowly avoiding a nuclear war through tactical politicking. His approach was far out of most people’s comfort zone but resulted in a peaceful resolution.
We can easily romanticise the challenges faced by great leaders, past and present, but this can be a way of distancing them so that we can avoid responsibility. For example, someone might say ‘I want to be a great leader like Moses’ but they don’t actually consider what it takes.
Moses, one might argue, was only able to achieve great liberation because he was able to utilise and harness his dark side. He overcame doubt, mostly managed his anger(1), killed a man when he had to, and was prepared to repeatedly confront Pharoah, his arch-enemy (2). Whenever Moses would meet with the King of Egypt to bring news of another plague, he would deliver the message and abruptly leave the room without further discussion once he saw that his words were having an impact (3).
What is your massive goal for the coming year? Where are you currently staying within your comfort zone and avoiding taking things to the limit?
Yoga guru Erich Schiffman teaches the idea of ‘playing the edge’ in a yoga pose, in other words, finding the limits of what you can physically achieve and playfully exploring that limit (4).
If we apply this principle in our lives, continually exploring our limits, we find that before long we can expand our possibilities. We have the power to take things to the edge of glory and beyond.
How to apply this in the boardroom: What is your company’s goal for the coming 12 months? Where have you been personally stuck in your comfort zone for the last 5-10 years? List three ways that you can step out of your comfort zone, and take ONE action within the next 24 hours!
How to apply this on the yoga mat/meditation mountain: Explore your physical limits in both physical postures (asana) and mental focus. See where you can push things further without going too far. So in a yoga pose this would look like going more deeply into a posture before it starts to hurt, and whilst meditating you might add an extra five minutes on to your sitting meditation time.
Based on Parsha Bo.
(1) e.g. when hitting the rock twice despite being commanded to hit it once.
(2) i.e. Pharoah, the King of Egypt!
(3) The commentary of Nachmanides (Ramban) on Exodus 10:6 – “And he turned and left Pharoah’s presence”. Ramban explains “he saw them turning to one another, believing his words, so he went out from there so they should confer with one another [to change their ways]”.