Are You Willing to Enter the Discomfort Zone?

by Alli Polin on April 5, 2016

discomfort zone

What does it take for you to get over your self-consciousness and let go? Do you stay in your shell or are you willing to poke out your head if the price is right? Maybe you’re a natural extrovert, and it takes a lot for you to feel self-conscious. No matter what, we all have (comfort zone) lines in the sand, and it’s important to know yours.

Crossing your line is a good thing when you’re pulled forward by something that matters and not because you’re pushed.

This week my family and I are on vacation at the beach. I’m doing my best to breathe in the serenity of the sea daily so I can carry it with me in the coming months. There are few places on earth that make me feel as peaceful as the beautiful beaches in Western Australia. It’s worth the three-plus hour flight and the three-hour drive to the beach house, aka heaven.

Usually, when we arrive, I’m still a stressed out small business owner and parent to two tweens who is slightly less patient than I should be. I admit it. (and don’t ask my kids or husband to define slightly) Midway through the holiday, I nap more, read more, dig my feet in the sand more and finally unwind. The fact that we visit our share of cellar doors also helps.

Welcome to the Discomfort Zone

When we landed in Perth, like most people who get off of a long flight, we made the trek to the toilets. Waiting outside of the restroom for the boys, my daughter and I were hanging out, and I gave her a dare: I want to see you dance, full out, for 60 seconds.

She thought I was nuts.

I encouraged her, told her nobody was watching (although they would be in a minute or two).

She’s an introvert and despite the fact that she loves dancing, that does not include dancing, without music, in front of strangers at the airport.

I dared her again.

She moved her shoulder to a beat that only she could hear and giggled.

I dared her again.


What if…

She is in the midst of a giving project. For 30 days, instead of allowance for chores, she gets $5 for every chore she does without being asked (or assigned), $5 for every hour of reading and $5 for an hour of math practice. At the end of 30 days, she’s going to pick a classroom through Donors Choose and donate her earnings. Her goal is a minimum of $200.

What if…

“If you do it full out for 60 seconds, I’ll give you $5 towards your project,” I offered.

Without hesitation, she was grooving, smiling, and earning.

When her brother and father walked out of the restroom, she kept dancing. They looked at her a little funny, but she wasn’t about to let looking silly get in her way.

[Tweet “Looking silly and feeling silly don’t have to go hand in hand when you have a purpose.”]


My self-conscious soon-to-be teen stopped dancing, but our smiles continued.

When Will You Step Over the Edge of Your Discomfort Zone Into the Unknown?

Over the years, I’ve coached small business owners and large business leaders stuck in their own heads. They worried about people’s judgements, as they watched them stretch and potentially fail. They feared how other people would scrutinize them, so they held back. Sound familiar?

Life is too short to hold back. When you give less than your all, you get less too.

What if…

Instead of pushing yourself to make a leap that’s too great, you set a smaller increment where you feel the stretch. Do it and you’ll discover that your next step is closer than you think. What’s your $5?

How far are you willing to go into your discomfort zone for something that matters? What will it take for you to make the leap?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Blair April 5, 2016 at 8:44 am

Nothing else to say on this one.
Thanks for putting a smile on my face (or thank said daughter) and spring in my step on this snowy April morning.
Enjoy the beach.


Alli Polin April 6, 2016 at 8:11 pm

We are enjoying! Glad this one made you smile. I was definitely beaming at her during her shake and shimmy.


John Bennett April 5, 2016 at 10:57 am

What a great thought: “Crossing your line is a good thing when you’re pulled forward by something that matters and not because you’re pushed.” Really like the phrase, ‘pulled forward’. It strikes me that an important opportunity ($5.00 donation) is far more effective pulling us forward than any – even well-meaning – individual, organization, or opportunity is to push us ahead.

[Aside] A little engineering: Beyond the awkwardness of walking backward or having the wheelbarrow behind you, it is a fact that it’s easier to pull a wheelbarrow forward than it is to push it in the same direction. Why? It’s all about the increased friction due to the direction of the applied force… I know, I know – who cares??? But it is true and sorta fits with this post!!!


Alli Polin April 6, 2016 at 8:10 pm

Grounded in science! Love that engineering fact. You have me thinking about the push vs pull in new ways – grateful!

~ Alli


LaRae Quy April 5, 2016 at 11:16 am

Loved the way you encouraged your daughter to come out of her introvert shell and dance in public for one full minute! You enabled her to think of herself in a totally different way—so powerful!

A great lead-in to ways we can enable ourselves to think differently about ourselves as well!

Great article on how to Break the Frame!


Alli Polin April 6, 2016 at 8:09 pm

While waiting for our bags, I asked her how it felt and if she surprised herself. She learned that being shy is a choice and doing the unexpected brings her alive in new ways. It was more than 60 seconds – it changed the way she sees herself and what’s possible.

Thanks so much, LaRae!


Carl Meibergen April 5, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Alli, as I read your post, I thought of Ginni Rommety’s quote:
“Growth and comfort do not coexist”

May we all dance to our own music – where ever and whenever we want!

Best regards,


Alli Polin April 6, 2016 at 8:05 pm

Great quote! Although, growth doesn’t take pain… just a stretch. Personally, the stretch feels great. Until you stretch, you never realize how constricted you were before.

Thanks, Carl!


Terri Klass April 5, 2016 at 2:34 pm

Wonderful post Alli! Taking a vacation is an essential part of our lives. It resets our energy levels and helps reposition our decisions and choices.

I love how you coached your daughter to go beyond her comfort levels. I can just visualize her dancing and being silly. My best workshops involve laughing at ourselves. It really helps people see their truths.

Thanks Alli and enjoy the beach!


Alli Polin April 6, 2016 at 8:06 pm

The more I hear about your workshops, they sound fantastic. Humor, silliness and laughter are all pathways to being more open and increasing the learning.

Thanks, Terri!


Allyson Apsey April 5, 2016 at 11:16 pm

Just took a short road trip with my boys and can so relate to the cherished family time! It does take a bit to unwind and get there. I love your quote about being silly…you are right, you don’t have to FEEL silly if you have a purpose. Often my $5 is just to brighten someone’s day, make them laugh, and ‘dare’ them to move out of their comfort zone. I wrote a post this past weekend on the value of being silly


Alli Polin April 6, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Thanks for your comment, Allyson! I love your piece on silliness and why it matters. It’s true, when we’re silly, it gives others permission to do the same. So much easier to move out of your comfort zone zone with silliness than fear.




Leave a Comment