Step out of your comfort zone

Jeoffrey Mukubi

IF you are content to remain at the same skill level, making the same music or taking the same photos for the rest of your career, then please ignore this article. If you want to become a better artist, read on, but be prepared to be uncomfortable.

A wise man once said, “If you only do what you can do, you’ll never be more than you are.” OK fine, it was not a man, but a cartoon character named Master Shifu from Kung Fu Panda.

I am currently learning this lesson the hard way, because I have embarked on a series of creative activities that are slowly eating away at my brain, but are weirdly rewarding. It is challenging to see my own work not culminating in a joyous ending or a blank cheque that will change my life in a blink of an eye. But that same feeling forces me to think about why I spend so much time on perfecting my skills.

I am not going to lie, this is an uncomfortable prospect. When I am in my own lane, I am extremely comfortable. I know how to make pretty things. I have become very good at pretty things during the last 10 or so years. But the question I have to face now is do I want to stay here in pretty things land, or do I want to push myself and see if I can make it into the realm of art that matters.

A comfort zone has lots of great qualities. It’s reliable. It’s safe. You know your comfort zone inside and out. But growth is not something comfort zones can provide. They are designed to keep you safe. Growth is triggered by adversity, and adversity is something comfort zones remove with extreme prejudice.

We truly need to look for opportunities to experience things that we may currently feel are beyond our abilities. The truth is we just don’t know until we try. And often trying once is simply not enough. Our first experience with a new medium, technique, or subject is not typically going to produce amazing results.

We should be accepting of this and be willing to invest some time and effort in order to see results.