The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Paradox Of The Comfort Zone …
August 14, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

There is no better feeling at work than feeling in control.

I don’t mean in terms of being ‘the boss’, but in terms of being confident you can handle whatever life throws at you.

In essence, every challenge becomes a task – something that requires your attention but will never put you in a position of panic.

And that’s when you know you need to put yourself in some sort of career danger.

While no one likes the feeling of being out-of-control or scared shitless, the ‘comfort zone’ is equally as dangerous.

I wrote something about this a while ago, but I recently caught up with a friend who took this advice in a pretty extreme way.

Justin was a successful trader.

He’d been a successful trader for 7 years and then one day, he decided to become a surgeon.


He basically walked away from a great career, salary and lifestyle and put himself in a situation where he was paying a huge amount of money to feel inadequate.

And here’s the thing. He hated feeling that way … loathed it … but he is sticking with it for 2 key reasons:

1. He hasn’t felt he was learning so much in decades.

2. He knows/hopes, that one day he’ll not feel so helpless and that feeling of triumph over adversity will give him a sense of achievement he cannot comprehend.

I think Justin is awesome.

Not to mention inspirational.

And while I don’t think you have to go to such extremes to feel alive, I do think it’s important you find ways to maintain that sense of ‘nervous energy’ in your day-to-day job.

That might not be able to be done every single day, but if you haven’t experienced it in a few months, it’s time to take some action because comfort zones kill potential and you might never find out what you’re really capable of doing.

49 Comments so far
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As written by someone who sits in his office all day writing blog posts or going on work “trips”. No hint of irony there Rob.

Comment by DH

dont be too fucking harsh dave, campbell makes sure he always goes to new 5 star fucking hotels to eat new 5 star food and talk to new 5 star prostitutes in new fancy fucking countries.

always pushing his boundaries in every fucking way.

Comment by andy@cynic

Good point. Sorry Rob.

Comment by DH

I played soccer with Justin once and he couldn’t hit a barn door with a tennis racket. How can a man like that be a surgeon?

Comment by DH

Soccer? You have officially been in the US for far too long David.

Comment by George

In that case he should be playing for nottingham forest rather than training to be a surgeon.

Comment by Pete

Don’t you start Pete. And Forest are owned by a Kuwati billionaire and we’ve just beaten a premiership side [Villa] 3-1 and a 2nd division side, errrrm 1-0 … but things are looking up. Kind-of. I hope. Please …

Comment by Rob

fucking sellout.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m doomed.

Comment by John

could be worse. you could be from nottingham and like fucking queen.

Comment by andy@cynic

Good post and good advice. It’s a shame that you recently said the best advice anyone can be given is not to listen to any advice that you are given.

Comment by George

Yes, but as I keep saying, all people are hypocrites.

Comment by Rob

I agree with George, this is a great post and Justin is a great, if slightly extreme, example. You mention looking for ways to keep challenging yourself in your job. Any suggestions beyond putting yourself in new or challenging situations?

Comment by Pete

I remember when we first met you said you thought I was too comfortable in my job and needed to be scared. That made a big impression on me because I did and you did by bringing the irrepressible Mr Hill to my life.

Comment by Pete

That is meant as a compliment to you Lee.

Comment by Pete

stop kissing campbells ass. he doesnt dish out your payrises anyfuckingmore. and theres no point being nice to lee, you need blackmail to get anything out of his tight fisted hands.

Comment by andy@cynic

you want advice how to get out your comfort zone?

1. resign.
2. tell auntie how youre feeling and hell sack you.

job fucking done.

Comment by andy@cynic

You should be charging for that advice.

Comment by DH

Rob, pay absolutely no attention to those motherfuckers. Best post in a while. Never really found a comfort zone that lasted very long. I hear some people actually search them out. Motherfuckers.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

Thanks Ciaran, I always do.

Comment by Rob

Thanks for the support Rob.

PS Your blog is full of crazies.

Comment by Justin O'Conner

not as crazy as some fucking rich banker who decides to become a fucking surgeon. hello justin you mad fuck.

oi campbell, you got me in shit with the wife. she saw me writing some of my wisdom on this bollocks and said it would be nice if our family time lasted more than 24 hours after coming back. so thanks for getting me in shit with the other half. afuckingain. prick.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’ve still got it.

Comment by Rob

Hi matey, great to have you come on here – but it might be a sign you’re too stressed and too overworked.

Speak soon.

Comment by Rob

Fuck off Rob. I love my comfort zone.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Great post Rob…so true. I think we all just need to scare ourselves everyone once in a while to stay fresh, to still know we have a passion for something and the fire inside that fuels that passion…and most importantly to ensure we never get complacent.

Comment by J.Dube

Oh my god, Dubey – what the hell are you doing on here? I thought you had much more taste than that, especially given you didn’t even comment on the post I specifically wrote for you:

Glad you like it though, but then you would given you decided to go from running NIKE at W+K Shanghai to moving to LA and becoming the new Ari Gold at CCA.

Great to have you pop by matey, hope to see you very soon. [Quick, fill your diary with as much shit as possible]

Comment by Rob

Impressive decision by Justin.

Pleasing to see the thought provoking posts continue despite Andrew’s return.

Comment by Lee Hill

Brilliant story, great thought.
Sadly this was the very first thing I thought of when I read it…

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

Great post and I agree with the sentiment, but only when it applies to people who aspire to greatness and ambition.
To be honest, there are many who don’t want to change the world and are happy earning enough to live their lives and pay the bills. This job sucks your life away and I wonder if we should sometimes celebrate people who do a good job and then go home.
Even in agencies, we need people to do dull tasks, that should maybe be recognised also

Comment by northern

Good point, but this is a blogpost and by definition is relevant only to the entitled and privileged..

Comment by John

Like you?

Comment by Rob

I’m a big fan of the people who just ‘get on with stuff and then go home’. Without them, we’d have absolutely nothing given the rest of us seem to enjoy big talking ourselves to death. But this post isn’t about them [though I should write about them because it’s a great point] it’s for the other lot … the folk that talk about striving for something bigger and better but end up settling for comfort because it’s easier.

There’s loads of people like that – me included – but that doesn’t mean it’s right, it just means people like Justin are better role models than all the planner folk adland likes to celebrate and put on a pedestal.

Comment by Rob

Spot on Northern.
This raises a good question…

Can you be a planner if you DONT aspire to greatness and ambition?

Do you think it’s possible for someone who’s priorities reside outside of their work to still have the drive to constantly make things better for their clients?

Simply, will they care enough?

Genuinely interested in peoples thoughts…

Comment by Age

I kind of think so. You have to love the job and be interested it, but so much of that means NOT being interested in the job and connecting all that stuff to the work you have to do.
One of the problems with many planners I come accross IS that they aspire to greatness and ‘famous work’ rather tan caring about the task in hand. Focusing on the now is really important, sometimes you just need to stop and smell the flowers every now and then. I kind of think that if you do more of that, the future sorts itself.
I wonder if constantly looking for new stuff to be interested in and try is a more healthy approach than shooting for the stars, because the problem with making you dreams too hard is that you usually end up disappointed.
If you don’t care about the work, you’ll be hopeless, but caring about the work is different to caring about being the next Russell Davies (or Rob Campbell)

Comment by northern

A song sprung to mind reading the discussion, especially after reading northern’s last comment to which I could not post a direct reply. But here you go:

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, this position I’ve held
It pays my way, and it corrodes my soul
I want to leave, you will not miss me
I want to go down in musical history

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, I’m a sickening wreck
I’ve got the 21st century breathing down my neck
I must move fast, you understand me
I want to go down in celluloid history, Mr. Shankly

Fame, Fame, fatal Fame
It can play hideous tricks on the brain
But still I’d rather be Famous
Than righteous or holy, any day
Any day, any day

Comment by vicar

Call me naive but if your job is about people then time spent away from the job and in the real world can only help you be better at your job. You could probably do it ona 9-5 basis if pointless meetings, presenteeism and industry rituals didn’t intervene.

As for aspiring to be the next Rob Campbell…

Comment by John

Quite right John (and reasonably un-droll)

Comment by northern

dont say that doddsy, campbell will use it as his excuse for all his fucking work holidays. the prick.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hardly. 9-5 would represent a massive inrease in his working day.

Comment by John

so would 9 to 9:05.

Comment by andy@cynic

you fucking bastard campbell. in a moment of post holiday weakness, i reacted to this post and do you know what it made me fucking do? it made me get a fucking labrador puppy thats what. the four legged bastard of growling fur shits as much as bonnie. sure shes fucking cute and yes im mr fucking popular for once at home, but theres shit fucking everywhere and ill be fucked if im going to be picking it up.

im sending you the bastard cleaning bill. every last fucking cent of it.

Comment by andy@cynic

Dear Andrew.

It is wonderful to see how you are turning into Mr Dad. We cannot wait to meet the new addition to your household. What is his or her name?

Love to your girls.

Comment by Mary Bryant

And that is what is called a precision strike.

Comment by John

well she produces a lot of shit so im thinking of calling her planner. and you can stop your smug fucking smiling mary, i can see it in your type.

Comment by andy@cynic

I assume you will be hiring an intern to take her for walks.

Comment by George

well it sure as fuck isnt going to be me. anyway this is all campbells fault so ill be passing on the cost for which ever acne ridden loser takes the gig. has to be an acne bastard, the wife wont let me have any swedish backpacking babes who are desperate for cash. she has a baby and suddenly my pipeline to fun has been cut off. why the fuck didnt any of you bastards tell me it would be like this? have to go and supervise another fucking load of shit cleaning. fuck my fucking fucked life.

Comment by andy@cynic

Isn’t Baz on garden leave at the moment?

Comment by DH

Let’s hope Andy’s ladies never read this without context…
Andy – can it not be your attack dog for taking on annoying clients and planners?

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

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