Tag Archives: sharks

The Dangers Of Your Comfort Zone

How To Expand Your Limits

I had this fish once a few years ago. Actually, I had several fishes. I don’t know what go into me, but I got the idea that I wanted to have a tropical fish tank in my apartment. And as luck would have it, there was a tropical fish store in the mini mall just behind where my apartment was located. I suppose there is a connection there; as the tropical fish store was right next door to the cleaners I took my shirts to. (Marketers take note.)

So I went in one Saturday afternoon, not sure what I wanted, and started looking around. I priced difference size tanks, equipment, shapes that would best fit in my apartment, etc. Finally I settled on size and a price, and now was time to pick the fish.

“I need some fish,” I asked the guy. He explained to me how the shop was set up. On the left, were fighting fish. Fish that can’t live with other fish or else they’ll kick the crap out of each other. On the right were passive fish, or fish that just stare at you bug eyed from inside the tank. Since I had in mind a tank with a bunch of different fish swimming around, I decided on the passive fish.

I remember once I took this public speaking class. The guy who taught it started it off with some story, which of course was a metaphor for personal growth. The story was told to him by his original teacher at this public speaking course. It was a famous course, and most of the instructors are former members who realized incredible personal growth through the course and wanted to continue their growth by teach others.

I’m not sure if they actually designed the course that way, or if it just naturally grew that way, but it seems to be a pretty good way to build your business. The people that teach others are people that were successful in it to start, so they really know the ins and outs. And the instructors are always being created, as more and more people join the course.

That way, they really only need to worry about getting new people to sign up for the course, rather than always be on the lookout or new instructors. It is kind of self-feeding business. Just put people into the funnel and they will either spread the word to other potential members, or become instructors themselves.

This particular public speaking class has been around for many years, at least fifty or so, and has slowly grown through this method. Unless you know somebody who’s gone through the course, you likely haven’t heard of it. Of course, if you are looking for one of the best public speaking courses around, you’ll likely find this one, if you do any kind of searching.

Anyway, this guy went into a fish store, and noticed that there were several different sharks. Some sharks were pretty big, while other sharks were kind of small. At first the guy thought maybe they were different breeds or species or whatever the word is that they use to classify sharks, but then he noticed that they were all very similar in appearance. They only differed by size.

So he then assumed that maybe some were younger, and some were older. But when he asked the shopkeeper, he was surprised.

These sharks only grow as big as their cage. It has something to do with their swimming patterns. They don’t have air buoys like other fish, so they can’t just sit and float. They need to keep moving. If they are confined to a relatively small area, they won’t grow very big. They have evolved this as a way to not out strip their resources. If they are in bigger tank, or a bigger area, then they grow bigger.

Of course, the sharks really have no idea that they are in a container; they just swim around and are automatically constrained by their boundaries. Those with larger boundaries expand to meet them, and those with smaller boundaries stay small.

He asked what would happen if you took a small fish and put it into a larger area. The shopkeeper told him that they would naturally adjust, and grow bigger. He said that’s the interesting thing about sharks, is that they are like people in this regard. They are always growing to match their boundaries. If they want to grow bigger, all they need to do is increase the limits of their boundaries, and they will naturally expand to meet them.

But like most people, sharks sit around and wait for somebody else to put them into a bigger container. They expect some outside force or entity to change the shape of their cage. Some people have figured out the secret. That our cages are really only a figment of our imagination. All we really need to do is imagine that our cages are bigger, and we will expand accordingly. Most people never figure this out, and are always waiting for somebody else to guide them by the hand to bigger and better cages.

Once you know the secret, you can just re-imagine our limits until they are big enough to contain all the goals and things you want to achieve in life.

That’s when this guy realized he was at the first day of a public speaking seminar, and the instructor was giving them a kind of pep talk. Over the next twelve weeks, they would be expanding their comfort zones considerably through the practice of public speaking. And they would learn the best secret of all.

All of your boundaries are set by your fears of what you think is on the other side. When you face those fears, and realize they are only figments of your imagination, you boundaries or comfort zone will expand immeasurably. Which is exactly what they learned at this public speaking seminar.

The funny thing is that I think the shopkeeper made a mistake. Because even though I picked all passive fish, from the passive fish side of the store, it didn’t take long for one fish to eat all the rest. I started out with about six fish. Every other day or so there would be one more fish missing.

And all I had left was one fighting fish that had been mistaken for a passive fish, which was now proudly the only fish in his tank.

Guitar Playing Scottish Sharks

We had just arrived at the dive site. Or the snorkeling site in my case. I wasn’t licensed or trained or certified or qualified or whatever-ified enough to strap on one of those big metal cans of air AND a weight belt to make sure you sink enough so you can go down and look at the fish. Nope, I was strictly an ameteur fish looker atter. Except we really weren’t going to look at fish. Well, if we did see any fish, which were likely as we were at the second largest reef in the world, they would be secondary.  Yep, we were big game hunters, er, lookers. We were going to swim with sharks. When we heard about this while on dry land it sounded safe enough. “Sure, everybody does it!” He said. “Yes, of course, they’re completely safe!” He said.  Funny how that seemed to be less relavent as we were suiting up to dive in. You could see the sharks just below the surface, swimming around, big dark shapes of death moving constantly. Slowly. Waiting. “Are you sure it’s safe?” I asked, suddenly wishing I had decided to attend the Aztec Ruins excursion. “Yea, just jump in!” He said. I wasn’t too sure. Sharks were bad right? They ate people, right? Jaws was a shark, right? And why was our boat captain wearing such a funny hat? It sure didn’t look like a boat captain hat, although I’m not really sure what boat captain hats are supposed to look like. It just didn’t fit the image I’d had in mind.

Kind of like when I first arrived in Scotland. It was a friday night, I had no clue where to go, what to do. And everybody was wearing these funny hats. Well not everybody, some people had on hats that looked kind of normal.  But at the time I wasn’t interested in hats. I apparantly hadn’t remembered to plan well, becaue I wasn’t supposed to meet my friends from Texas for another two days. I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me that I should probably plan ahead and book a hotel or something. I suppose I could find a hotel, but I didn’t really know where anything was. So I wandered around, past some park that was famous for some guy doing something that helped Scotland out in their past. And on the side of the park were a bunch of people singing and drinking and playing a guitar. I guess everybody all over the world knows how to have fun. They seemed to give off a really good vibe when they asked me to join them, but I passed. I was tired, and needed a place to sleep. I’d been traveling for about twenty hours. Then I saw him. And older guy. Much older. The kind of person that you imagine hates young people for some reason.  He kept eyeing me. Maybe he wanted something? Maybe I looked like the guy that got his daughter pregnant and then left her at the alter?  Who knows. He started walking towards me. Staring. Not shifting his eyes. Not even wearing a funny hat. He kept coming closer and closer, but I was tired, I was wearing a heavy backpack, and I just didn’t have the energy to put up a fight.

Similar to times when you don’t know what’s going on, and you just give in, and trust yourself. Like once during an acting class the teacher had us stand up on a table and fall foward into the waiting arms of our clasmates. All we had to do was trust strangers to help and support us as we fell. It was a pretty cool exercise. Another similar one was wear I was at a really wierd seminar, and this guy kept saying stuff like “trust is the secret, trust is the secret,” or something like that. There we had blindfolds on, and people led us around and instructed us to fall backwards into a chair without checking to make sure there was one there before we fell.  That was a fantastic experiene. Kind of when you just let go and for some reason can allow yourself to have faith that everything will be allright.

“Son, you look lost!” the old guy said, in the best Sean Connery Impersonation I’ve EVER heard, suddenly busting out a suprisingly full toothed grin. “Uh, yea,” I responded, relieved that he didn’t follow up his Sean Connery accent with some licensed to kill techniques. “Come with me……” I didn’t catch anything of what he said after that, as it was thick with local dialect and idioms that had I understood, I never would have forgotten. Twenty minutes later he led me to a row of Bed and Breakfasts. Five minutes after that I found myself immediately slipping into a nice peaceful sleep after slipping into some wonderfully soft and inviting sheets.

Just like when I let go of the railing and slipped into the water.  Not really slipped, more like splashed. And funny thing. As I plunked into the water, it seemed to startle the sharks. It seems they were more afraid of me than I was of them. They were only Nurse Sharks, and mostly fed on crabs and other stuff off the bottom. Another cool thing was after was able to realize that my fears were false I was really able to open my mind, and really appreciate the beauty that I otherwise would have missed due to my fears.

How many ways can you imagine being able to notice beauty around you when you release some of your fears?