The following is the 10th part of an exclusive Impact Lab series called the Twelve Trends of Christmas by Thomas Frey.  Title:  The Wisdom of Stress

As a human being, your value to society, as well as yourself, is directly proportional to the number of times you put yourself at risk in life.

While many would argue with this statement, it does give us another interesting measuring stick for determining what’s important and what’s not.

Doing something new always makes us nervous. We don’t like making mistakes. We don’t like appearing foolish, unprepared or clumsy. We want to look competent, relaxed, and cool.  But great wisdom comes from stepping outside of our comfort zone.  And most often the new experiences are not all that graceful.

You don’t have to be reckless to do something that you normally wouldn’t do, but it does take courage.  And sometimes it’s painful.  The pain I’m referring to may be:

1)       The physical pain of muscles aching and lungs burning.

2)       The emotional "pain" of feeling awkward or clumsy at doing something new.

3)       The "pain" of discipline and sacrifice.  

4)       Very often, it’s all three types of pain.

Here’s why this is such an important trend in 2007 and beyond.

Comfort zones are expandable.  They are fluid, dynamic, and ever changing.  We are in the process of transitioning from a product-based society to an experience-based society.  The sum of all of our experiences is far more valuable than anything we own.  But we need help finding and living these new experiences.  In short, we need help stretching our comfort zone.

If you start by making a list of the top ten talents you wished you had, and you were serious about obtaining those talents, who would you turn to? Or maybe it’s the top ten fears you would like to overcome, or the top ten friends you wished you had, or the top ten cities you’d like to visit.

Over the coming months we will see a number of new businesses spring to life that will help you do exactly that.  They will help prepare you for the experiences, mentally prep you to handle the pain, the surprises, and that little voice inside your head that is constantly telling you not to do it.  And they will coach you on how to do it better the next time around.

Not only will these businesses help you through the experience, they will help you quantify what you just endured.  This is important because people will judge you by the experiences you’ve had.  In the emerging new world you will more likely be credentialed and evaluated by the experiences you’ve had than by your years of employment or years of education.

Think in terms of your resume.  The next generation resume will have sections dedicated to your personal experiences, and a good coach will help you translate the value of what you just endured into a quantifiable skill that pertains to the next job, contract, or project you’d like to be involved in.

Comfort zone coaches will be part of an elite class of individuals.  They will have personally endured life in a spectacular way, expanding their own comfort zones in the process.  They will have the scars and bruises to prove their worthiness, and they will have countless stories to relate to their coaching clients.

In the future, people will be judged by the size of their comfort zone.  While the meek may inherit the earth, it is the bold and fearless who are running it today, and its not to late to learn how to run with that crowd.

However, the true value of expanding your comfort zone is very personal.  The wisdom of stress is the wisdom of an enhanced understanding of the world around us.  It brings a kind of pleasure that is both unique and very satisfying. This is your true reward.


ABOUT:  Thomas Frey is currently Google’s Top Rated Futurist Speaker.  He serves as the Senior Futurist and Executive Director of the DaVinci Institute.  For more information click here.