The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Woman

The Extraordinary Life
of an Ordinary Woman
For all intents and purposes, Florence, was an unremarkable person. Diminutive, topping out at a mere five feet, my Mother never weighed more than 100 lbs. And, by her own admission, she was the spoiled youngest child in a family with 11 other children. Engaged to Bobby Hensel, Florence was securely ensconced in her comfort zone.
Then came WWII, and her comfort zone was gone. Bobby shipped off to Germany, and was one of the 75,000 casualties of the Battle of the Bulge, ending his life in the belly of a Sherman tank. It was during this time that the ordinary subject of our story became part of something extraordinary. Having been forced out of her comfort zone, Florence went to work at Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, CT, building aircraft engines that were used in the B17 flying fortresses that were instrumental in stopping fascism from sweeping over the globe.
After the war, she settled down with another WWIi veteran, had a family, and the rest is important only to those who loved her. But, for a time, she was part of something remarkable. All because events and history conspired to push her out of her comfort zone.
Which brings us to you and me. If you’re someone who needs a world war to get out of your comfort zone, you can probably stop listening now. Although we all strive to be comfortable, comfort will eventually become your enemy. It will keep you from taking risks, from moving forward and achieving your goals.
The problem with avoiding something difficult is that not only are you just delaying the inevitable, but you’re increasing the difficulty when you are finally forced to confront the challenge. Avoidance and comfort is seductive, but comfort doesn’t promote change, but rather encourages stagnation. And we all know that stagnation is the death knell for any business.
If you’re just going through the motions, you’re focusing on mere performance rather than learning. You are avoiding uncertainty. However, as explained by Jessical Stillman in a 2018 article in Forbes, writing on research conducted at Yale, it’s the crazy, unstable, uncomfortable situations that are essential if you want to learn. Comfort tends to make your brain’s learning regions shutdown.
For this reason, stability kills learning. Which is fine if you're trying to master your golf swing or figure out how many minutes to boil an egg. But in many areas of life -- including the professional domain -- we want to continually improve and learn. And to do that you need to avoid the easy and comfortable in favor of the unpredictable and probably hard”.
As Yale neuroscientist Daeyeol Lee put it to Quartz, "Perhaps the most important insight from our study is that the function of the brain as well as the nature of learning is not 'fixed' but adapts according to the stability of the environment... When you enter a more novel and volatile environment, this might enhance the tendency for the brain to absorb more information."
Five-time entrepreneur Auren Hoffman advises that if you want to maximize learning you should be doing hard things 70% of the time. After all, if it’s easy, you’re not learning. Before you start worrying about how to hit that 70% mark, even Mr. Hoffman admits that it is a goal that most people, including himself, will never reach.
So, should we be uncomfortable, stressed and anxious all the time? Of course not (unless you have stock in Xanax). In fact, we are most creative when we are comfortable. As explained by Jeffrey Baumgartner, we need an anxiety-neutral, risk-free environment to be creative. He writes “When you are comfortable and unthreatened, you can relax, and your mind can wander. This happens to be the ideal creative thinking mode in part because it allows your mind to relax which, in turn allows it to (1) make the kind of unexpected connections that result in creative ideas and (2) it relaxes its censorship mode, allowing more unusual ideas to take shape than it normally does.
So, basically, we all need to stop living full-time in our comfort zone. However to keep our creative side active, we shouldn’t be afraid to visit it once in a while.
Our recruiting professionals push themselves out of their comfort zone everyday making connections and going the extra mile for you. They never get complacent and never just “go through the motions” – they strive, learns, and yes, even get uncomfortable when needed to ensure that they find the best candidate for the job.
If you would like to learn more, give us a call – we’d love to hear from you.