Your Comfort Zone is your Dead Zone

“He who is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.” Ben Jonson

The following statements were said to me by three different wise people in my life.  One was a 5-year-old child, one was a 37-year-old woman and one was a 72-year-old man.  See if you can guess which one is each person.

“When something happens, I choose to find the positive or the negative.”

“Sometimes I need someone else doing something first then I am brave.”

“The Bible tells me God is with me, I don’t need to be afraid.”

Recently, I was asked to share on the principle of wise counsel in our SEU Chapel. The exercise above illustrates one of my foundational growth principles.  You can learn from anyone.  It doesn’t matter their age or background – every person can say or do something that presents an opportunity to grow. 

Have you slowed down to listen to a 5-year-old boy standing next to the ocean looking at the waves?  When have you listened to a mom at a playground watching her child navigate the monkey bars for the first time?  Have you tapped into a business man’s life of experience to hear how he faces each challenge?  These may be everyday situations, but their wisdom is timely and profound.  Want to know if you guessed correctly – check out the end of the blog.  (C’mon, read the rest first!)

The key to receiving wise counsel is you!  You have people around you who can impact you profoundly.  Here are some basic principles that are catalytic for you to receive wise counsel.

  • Be Humble – Pride stops growth.

‘But he continues to pour out more and more grace upon us. For it says, God resists you when you are proud but continually pours out grace when you are humble.”’

James 4:6

Pride says, “I got this.”  Humility says, “I invite you to pour into me.”  Pride says, “I will protect you – you don’t need anyone else.”  Humility invites others to show you “what you don’t know.”  Pride says, “I am the expert.”  Humility says, “I continue to grow.”  If you feel like you don’t need input from others, you are relying on your own intellect, gifts and talents.  This is the starting point.  You must move beyond your own comfort and arrogance to recognize that you need others to speak into your life.  You have to decide what you want to allow people into.  I am not asking you to be a puppet to everyone in your life.  I am urging you to open the door to those you trust who can impact your life in a healthy way.

  • Be Curious – What do you want to know to grow?

I am constantly fascinated by things that are interesting to me and other people.  My grandfather took classes at Harvard after retiring.  One of the classes was based on life experiences.  Each person in the class had to do a one-hour presentation on one of their “passions” in life.  He said it was tremendous!  They covered topics like WW II airplanes, Chinese culture, sports, gardening, music, etc. Applying this principle to my life today, here are some of the topics I am learning about today – African American History and culture, HIIT workout benefits, lake management and executive leadership. 

Add to that all the people I interact with daily and I quickly recognize there is so much to learn.  The key is to keep asking questions.  One of my favorites is “Tell me something about yourself that will surprise me?”  I usually go first and tell them that I was in the circus in college and I performed a wedding on Spanish MTV (without speaking Spanish.)  It is amazing how that one question opens up a dialogue for people to share things that excite them in life.  Try it out!

  • Be Teachable – What will you do to grow?

Are you teachable?  If you came to Grace Family Church as an employee, you would recognize that this is a big question.  If you are not willing to learn, adapt, change and move in new directions, you will struggle.  You will be stuck in the rut of what you bring to the moment.  It may be good for the moment but life continues to change.  Will you learn and grow with it?

Being teachable also means that you must take choose to take action.  It won’t just come to you.   Make a call, write a letter, take a class, get some training.  Sit with someone who has done your role and ask them questions about successes and challenges.  When you find something that is “out of the norm,” learn from someone who is has done it. When my daughter, Abigail, wanted to get her certification in personal training, she took an intense course online.  I was interested and joined her…at the age of forty-three and no desire to leave ministry!  It was so much fun learning all the anatomy, philosophy and application of human exercise and even taking the test at the end.  I have been athletic all my life, but I didn’t stop with the extent of my knowledge. I wanted more.

  • Be Intentional – What is your Strategy to grow.

‘Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Proverbs 11:14 KJV

The word “counsel” in the Hebrew means “to guide, counsel.”  And the root word – “steering, directing a ship.”  Imagine your life is a business.  Mine would be  My life would have all the attributes of a business – mission statement, values, assets, liabilities, physical property and relationships.  I could do my “business” and go through life making transactions that affect all of these. 

Any good business also has a strategy to bring all of these together to move the organization forward.  If action is good, then strategic action is effective. When you have a solid strategy and can execute that vision at the highest levels, your “business” will flourish in all of the areas above. 

Jim Collins introduced the concept of a “personal board of directors” to me in a talk he shared at a Catalyst Conference.  He told us to list all the areas in our lives that significantly impact us in our growth. Here are a few of mine:  Relationship with God, marriage, parenting, ministry, leadership, finances, exercise, and nutrition.  I found people that I trusted to become a board member that could speak into one of these areas.  They brought their wisdom and expertise to my “business” and I allowed them to challenge me to grow.  If you think they are a group of old men, you would be wrong.  These are men and women of different ages, life positions and backgrounds.  A few of them have been with me since I started it but some have changed as my life presented new demands.  This has been one of the greatest tools in my life to help me grow.

Imagine your life a year from now if you have these four areas established in your life.  What would it look like?  Would your life reflect all that you value and desire?  Would it have new levels of achievement and fulfillment.  Would you enjoy an element of “fun” in your days that isn’t there right now?  I believe you would.

Ok, here are the answers from above.

“When something happens, I choose to find the positive or the negative.” – 72 yr. old man.

“Sometimes I need someone else doing something first then I am brave.” – 37 yr. old mom

“The Bible tells me God is with me, I don’t need to be afraid.” – 5 yr. old adventurer

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