Can You Take One More Step?

When I told one of my mentors that fundraising is out of my comfort zone, she told me I should write a blog post about it…so here it is. 

Do you ever find yourself explaining what comfort zones are to a group of people you’ve just met?  I do, and quite regularly.  My work as a challenge course trainer helps provide a rewarding job that allows me the flexibility to put energy into running Green Camps.  I started managing ropes courses as a camp professional which helped me gain thousands of hours of ropes course facilitation to become a Qualified Challenge Course Professional.  I get to travel around the country visiting camps and other organizations training their ropes course staff.

During these trainings, I ALWAYS talk about comfort zones and want to share how that conversation goes to encourage you to step out of your Comfort Zone.

I start by saying,

“Please stand up and draw a circle around you with your toe.” 
“This circle represents your comfort zone.” 
“How do you define comfort zones?”
“What are some actions that are in your comfort zone?” 

These questions allow participants to build rapport with each other and prepares them to sequence into sharing things that they might not ordinarily share with others.  

“What kinds of things would you say are out of your comfort zone”. 
“For everything you hear that is out of your comfort zone you can take a small step outside of your comfort zone.” (the circle they drew with their toe) 

This experience is meant to provide a safe space for everyone to share what is challenging to them. I think it’s important to be able to relate to your peers and this activity makes it very visible.  Understanding what challenges someone can best support them which of doing something hard, like climbing up to the top of a 40-foot pole and jumping off.  I should also add that it’s not recommended to climb up and jump off 40-foot poles without a properly set up belay system and trained belayer. 

After a handful of participants have shared, I’ll ask them to draw a larger circle around their comfort zone with their toe which represents the Growth Zone.

As a facilitator, my goal is to help guide a group debrief of the experience using questions that are open ended, specific, personal, clear, brief and selective. This debreif process can be one of the most challenging aspects of facilitation, but with training, resources and practice you can help your participants transfer the lessons they learn back into their lives.

“What is a growth zone?”
“Why is it important to step outside your comfort zone?”
“Do we all have the same size comfort zone?” 
“Why can it be hard to step outside your comfort zone?” 

You probably don’t want to ask all of these, but it’s good to have a few debrief questions prepared. 

My next question references the area on the other side of the growth zone.  I often refer to it is as the Danger Zone.

“What are some things that would push you beyond your growth zone and into the danger zone?”

This is the area that represents the point at which an experience moves too quickly and too far into the growth zone and has the opposite effect of what any facilitator wants the participant to experience.  This is important to note because the point at which this could happen is not the same for everyone. 

One of the best ways to avoid moving into this undesirable area, the danger zone, is to let the participant choose how far they challenge themselves.  I do like to work with the group to establish a baseline that everyone can agree to as the minimum level of participation (M-LOP).  Like putting on a harness and helmet, going through your belay commands and taking one step off the ground.  But it’s unrealistic to assume that every participant will climb to the top of that 40-foot pole, stand up without having anything to hold onto, then spring out and up to catch the trapeze bar hanging 6 feet up and 6 feet out. 

Each step they take along the way is an accomplishment for that individual. 
Each step they take along the way is a step out of their comfort zone. 
Each step they take along the way represents personal growth. 

If the point comes that they don’t want to take another step I have a few options of how to proceed I like to ask…

“Can you take one more step?”

I want the participant to be the one to make that decision.  More so than not, they will take another step, and maybe another, and maybe another.  But it’s always their decision. 

I hope you will take the time to think about your comfort zone and areas that you might be able to experience growth by spending some time in your growth zone. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, fundraising has always been outside of my comfort zone.  There are so many important tasks associated with operating a non-profit, but I’ve always found it challenging to talk about money, let alone ask for it. 

So in the spirt of stepping outside of my comfort zone I posted a video on my facebook page to ask for donations to Green Camps on behalf of my birthday on March 30th.  I was so grateful to see that my friends, family, supporters and even people I’ve never met helped raise over $500 dollars to support our work.

Personal and professional growth has always been important to me and I feel honored to reguarly help others explore their comfort zones. Furthermore they will take this knowledge to then facilitate hundreds and thousands of youth and adults step outside of their comfort zones.

One of my biggest takeaways from the concept of “comfort zones” is that with every step we take out of our comfort zone it grows and leaves us more confident and ready to take on new challenges. Even with that 40-foot pole, you can get to a place where you’re able to have confidence in yourself, the equipment, and the belayer to climb up and jump off without hesitation.

Danny has received 386 hours of challenge course training, delivered 4721 hours of facilitation, accumulated more than 1393 hours of train the practitioner hours and 841 hours of building and inspection. In addition to his ropes course experience, Danny brings more than 20 years of experience in the camp industry as a camp director, educator, consultant and founder of Green Camps, a non-profit providing sustainability solutions to camps.

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