John’s session at ACCDE10 about leaving your comfort zone was the right session at the right time for me.

I like getting out of my comfort zone. To hear that so many coaches (all?) have that experience was already a good insight (It also made me realize the opposite is true for a lot of the people I coach)

Moving with my family to Bordeaux is really going outside of my comfort zone.

(And even much more for my kids, my partner and our family then it is for me.)


I know that me getting out of my comfort zone is related to being one of the youngest kids of my class and related to the experience I had when I burned down my parents house.

(Come to my session with Robin Dymond at Agile 2010 if you want to know more about that experience.)


Talking with so many coaches about this was a real eye opener.

Especially as I had been thinking about the subject as the result of my gestalt course and our family move. Thank you John for organizing this and everyone else that interacted.


statements I remember:

1) Getting out of your comfort zone is important for personal improvement
2) When you do experiements as a coach to learn people about this, people might see things differently, because of their earlier experiences.
3) Give people a safe environment so they can learn to push their boundaries.
4) People need to feel safe to move out of their comfort zone.
5) The Safety Zone is bigger then Comfort Zone
6) Stepping out of your Comfort zone increases the size of Safety Zone

7) Staying to long in your Comfort Zone decreases your safe zone.
7) Safety zone != Safe zone

8) Safety zone is perceived


Sometimes we coaches are telling the clients, that their safe zone no longer exists.

People might not get the message and be angry at us. (They think we are the problem) Where in fact we are only the messenger.

The trick is to have games or workshops that people realize

A) their safety zone no longer is a safe zone

B) We can help them finding a new Safety zone that is a safe zone.


It was again nice to see that whatever I’m learning that I can use as a coach I can use as a parent to.

I felt really sorry to leave before the end, but I had a session immediately after it, and there were no breaks in between the sessions.

7 Responses to “Getting out of your comfort zone”

  1. Gino Marckx says:

    Interesting article. It’s unclear for me what the distinction is between safe zone and safety zone. Will you elaborate on that?


  2. yhanoulle says:

    Great question.

    During the discussion we realize that some people where using the word safety zone differently.
    We ended up with safety zone and safe zone.
    Your comment made me realize I did not explain this.

    How I see it now:

    Comfortzone: Everything inside this zone you feel comfortable doing.
    Safezone: The zone where you can safely do something. (Could be smaller then comfortzone, could be bigger, could be totally different place then comfort zone)
    Safetyzone: zone where I feel I can safely do somethings (even if I feel less comfortable in doing so)

    Let’s give an example:

    My son Joppe at 5 years old, thought he could drive his bike faster then cars.
    So he feels safe in places where it is not safe.

    His safetyzone is bigger then his safezone.

    A biased developer example:

    Imagine Jefrey, a developer that has been written code without unit tests, his comfort zone is writing code without tests.
    He might see his comfort zone == safety zone. (He feels he can’t write tests as it would slow him down in developement)
    The safezone might be the same.

    If his company moves in to the fast moving world(f ex delivering their program in SAAS ), that safezone might be moved completly.
    Now his team should be able to release software in iterations and without long testing phase.
    All of a sudden his safetyzone, nor his comfort zone are part of the real safezone.

    Jeffrey has a problem.
    If I’m a coach at Jeffery’s company, part of my job is to make sure that Jeffrey sees the safezone he knew has moved.
    He might think that I moved that zone, where as a coach I’m only the messenger. And on top of that, as coaches we don’t care much about going out of our comfort zone. (as I learned from this session)
    But for Jeffrey’s that is different. Jeffrey’s like to stay into their comfort zone.
    Even if that means that their safezones shrink because of that.

    So all the Jeffery’s of the world blame coaches for the moving of their safezone’s, where we are only the messenger.

    (You can replace Jeffrey with Stephan an old school project manager and have a similar example.)

    is this clear now?

  3. Gino Marckx says:

    Thanks for the explanation. Yes, I get the point now.

    One thing to add… Let’s take Jeffrey as an example again. What – I believe – happens is that Jeffrey is not sufficiently supportive of the fact that HE also is accountable for the quality of the released product, and no longer only the QA department. So even if he realizes that developing without tests is not ‘safe’, he is convinced it’s not his problem, or at least blames whoever introduces ‘agile’ for adding the aforementioned responsibility/accountability.

  4. yhanoulle says:

    I’m not sure if it is part of the comfort zone discussion.

    The fact that I don’t know, shows I have to think about this and see how it is related (or not)

    Thanks Gino for pushing this discussion even further.

    Anyone else an idea?

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