A "comfort zone" is a pattern of behavior that gives you a sense of security. It usually involves creating artificial boundaries to exclude any exposure to events, ideas, and people who might cause you distress.
That certainly sounds like a great idea until you consider the following:
Growth of any kind involves overcoming the fear of events, ideas, and people who cause you distress.
When you look at it that way, a comfort zone can be viewed as a self-constructed trap.
How many people do you know who are unhappy in their life or work, but are afraid to make the necessary changes to improve their lives because that would jeopardize their "comfort zone". They derive an artificial sense of security from the relationship or job that is making them miserable!
Ask almost any successful artist or businessman about their rise to success and you will discover that they started making their breakthroughs when they finally discovered how to move out from their "comfort zone" to a higher level of public exposure.
Success, money, even healthy and happy relationships come from the freedom to expose yourself to new people and new opportunities.
A good way of accomplishing this is to broaden your comfort zone by first training yourself to confront and handle those things that make you uncomfortable, and then gradually confronting and handling those things that you fear. Eventually you can increase your ability to the point where you are comfortable with a wide range of people and situations.
This is not an overnight process. It can take years to accomplish, but every day that you broaden your horizons is a day that you achieve a victory over those things that hold you back in life.
I will continue this discussion in following articles with specific examples and drills for craftspeople who want to broaden their comfort zone in dealing with customers.
Many thanks to Silvie Granatelli, master potter, for suggesting this topic.