We are all familiar with the term ‘Comfort zone’ as in ‘that is outside my comfort zone’.
When most people speak publicly to a large audience for the first time, it is way outside their comfort zone. That discomfort manifests as fear, they sweat, the knees are rubbery, voice goes up a few octaves, and sometimes nausea takes over, but for most, they become increasingly comfortable with being on stage with practice.
In effect the limits of their comfort zone have been expanded. What was previously in their discomfort zone has become comfortable. The ‘fear’ of being on stage has lessened, you learn to work with it, manage it, and often turn it to your advantage. For some it becomes an exciting and stimulating experience.
I would propose then that we go one step further.
To our own comfort and discomfort zones, which are well populated in our minds, we add a third option.
Our ‘Oh Shit’ zone, or OSZ.
This is not just an increased level of discomfort, the jelly-knee, voice cracking experience of that first gig on a big stage, where you are able to add rational thought and know that whatever happens, you will go home that night at about the same time.
The Oh Shit Zone implies a level beyond psychological discomfort to one of physical or psychological danger. Manageable but nevertheless, danger, with the attendant fear that has to be managed if you are to get through to the ‘other side’ of the event.
For me, it would be jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane with a little sack on my back that promised to float me to earth safely.
However, once done, having conquered the fear the first time, the second time would be easier, and the third, easier again.
The uncomfortable things we all need to do, but often do not are the things that hold us back. I am as guilty as anybody, that fear of failure, of public censure or even pity is strong. Those that push through, conquer their fear and get the job done despite the obstacles, are the ones who will be successful.
Considering you OSZ puts a different perspective on bit of discomfort.