How This Extreme Swimmer Steps Out Of Her Comfort Zone And What You Can Learn From It (Part 1)



I am a Business Psychologist, Coach, Trainer, and Manager at one of the Big Four accounting firms.

Besides that, I am an extreme swimmer and have been continuing to swim despite my busy consulting life. I am not an extraordinary person who will tell you about the perfect world or about perfection itself.  My aim is rather to share my experiences and my inspirational sources with you, with the hope that I can touch your heart and give you a piece of inspiration to increase your courage, to follow your own passion and your own journey by going out of your comfort zone and expanding your growth zone.Life is not easy. Live was never easy. Pain and discomfort are parts of our life. Of course, we do not choose them, and we do not plan our life to feel pain or discomfort. It comes suddenly or unplanned. And it comes when you have the courage to leave your comfort zone for further experiences. Without pain and discomfort, you can’t know comfort and happiness. Without breaking your own limits, you cannot explore yourself and your potential to the fullest. It is never that you cannot do something you dream of, it’s just that you can’t do it or achieve it YET.


Outside the comfort zone, such as in challenging moments within family or business, some people choose to be victims, and some people choose to be heroes or fighters, with the aim to growing stronger out of their circumstances. In which category are you, especially in this crisis, and in which category do you want to be in your near future? Currently, I am in Johannesburg, South Africa for my 6-month business assignment during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. I think more than ever about being out of our comfort zone these days. We are in an extraordinary situation. We can also call it a worldwide crisis. Within three weeks, all restaurants have been closed, the clubhouse in my complex closed, the gym closed, the pool closed, the shops closed, the office closed- so everything that I enjoy with people in Johannesburg has been closed. The virus we are fighting against is forcing all of us to stay at home, and rightly so. Now, we are in lockdown day 52. There are 5 levels of lockdown. The first 35 days, we were in level 5 and not even allowed to go for a walk within our complex.

Outside the comfort zone, such as in challenging moments within family or business, some people choose to be victims, and some people choose to be heroes or fighters, with the aim to growing stronger out of their circumstances. In which category are you, especially in this crisis, and in which category do you want to be in your near future? Currently, I am in Johannesburg, South Africa for my 6-month business aissignment during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. I think more than ever about being out of our comfort zone these days. We are in an extraordinary situation. We can also call it a worldwide crisis. Within three weeks, all restaurants have been closed, the clubhouse in my complex closed, the gym closed, the pool closed, the shops closed, the office closed- so everything that I enjoy with people in Johannesburg has been closed. The virus we are fighting against is forcing all of us to stay at home, and rightly so. Now, we are in lockdown day 52. There are 5 levels of lockdown. The first 35 days, we were in level 5 and not even allowed to go for a walk within our complex.


Now, in level 4, we are allowed at least to run from 6 to 9 am. Currently, in South Africa, you are only allowed to go out for essential purchases such as buying food or getting medical treatments. Alcohol, cigarettes, anything deemed unessential is forbidden. Staying at home is the best thing that we can do right now for ourselves and for our fellow human beings to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The cases are under control, and the measures show their effectiveness. Everybody would agree with me that our home is ideally our comfort area. Isn’t it? Ideally, it should be.

I would never imagine that I am now reflecting about staying at home as an out of comfort zone experience. My home has always been my comfort zone, where I can find time and my space to rest, to regenerate myself and to distance myself for some amount of time from all the business and social life, where I regain my deepest energy to get myself ready again to go out, socialize, work, work out and have some out of comfort zone experiences for individual and professional growth.Naturally, we are social animals. Across all cultures, races, ages and genders, humans have basic needs for social and emotional connection. We also have a need for balance. Currently, we are limiting ourselves from being near our loved ones or going outside. Some of you may have lost your jobs, some may have kids at home and still trying to work productively while taking care of your babies. Some of you may have some relationship issues….stuck at home, trying to figure the relationship problems out and still trying to perform for the outside world. Some of you may be completely alone, and if you are a sport and nature addict like me, you can’t go out and train properly in nature.


All those limitations are challenges for us, which demonstrate my definition of an out of comfort zone experience as well.


We took so many things for granted. Our freedom, our health, our loved ones next to us, walking on the street, working with our colleagues and having breaks together, dining with friends, drinking one glass of wine and much more. Who could imagine that even swimming is forbidden now? I have not been swimming for more than two months for the first time in my life, sitting alone in Johannesburg far away from my family and friends. Because of running, I have started feeling pain in my ankle, which was operated in January.


Life is testing our patience in different areas, and the art is to try staying optimistic and being grateful for everything we still have. For what can you be grateful today? The sun will be rising again soon. With every new experience, you explore yourself and your potential.


My challenging swimming experiences gave me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and grow both mentally and physically.


Through my swimming journey, I learned many things, which have helped me in my entire school, corporate, and private life. Now, in the time of social distancing, alone in Johannesburg without the opportunity to swim, I am trying to use those strengths:


Endurance

First of all, as a swimmer, you have the endurance to do things even if you are getting tired. Same in sports or also in corporate life. The real competition or the real game starts when you feel tired. The strong ones win at the end of the game. Getting tired to do things is completely normal; we are all human beings. The question is how you deal with this feeling and push your limits despite hurdles. I learn to overcome the hurdles and push my limits and expand my inner strength both physically and mentally.

Resilience

Second, you have more resilience because you learn to win, but also learn to lose and deal with being also sometimes less successful. You are becoming a fighter. You fight against your own limits and try to get better without giving up. The harder you work and become better, the more you gain confidence in all areas of your life. Small things are not affecting you because you know the pain and how to deal with it. The more you feel pain and overcome your pain, the more you learn to control your mind and body. The more you control your mind and body, the more you become resilient.


Collaboration

Third, many people think that swimming is just an individual sport, but with swimming, you also learn collaboration, training together, supporting each other even if you are competing. Your success even in an individual sport is still the result of an overall ecosystem. Without this ecosystem, you can’t be successful. My family, my trainer, my friends all supported me to the fullest mentally. You always need supporters in life and also people who challenge you, who support you and who give you feedback. Without the feedback of my trainers, I wouldn’t have the perfect technique for both pool and open water swimming. Without the mental challenge of my mom, I wouldn’t have the courage to keep going, and without the support of my friends, I wouldn’t feel part of a team and belong to something bigger.


Body & Mind Control

Swimming also taught me to know and control my mind and body and use my external resources to the fullest to maximize my success. Without knowing your own body and thought process, you can’t be successful and lead others. In every training, in every challenging race, I experienced my body and my thought process. I learned how to maximize my own efficiency and use external or internal resources.


Don’t let your fears lead you. Have the courage to step out of your comfort zone, explore new experiences, and explore yourself.Keep calm, stay strong and stay at home.


P.S. Don’t miss Part 2 that will come out next week on Friday about the 10 tangible steps you can implement straight into your life to step out of your comfort zone. Subscribe HERE and get it delivered into your inbox.