One of the hardest things to do for all of us is to break out of our comfort zone. And that not only goes for training, which we’re talking about today but in everyday life situations. However, that same comfort zone can and will lead to stagnation both personally and professionally. And we have to fight that to reach our goals.

Look, we all have our favorite watering hole, restaurant or diner etc. the list can go on and on. And we stick with those things, why? Because we’re comfortable there and like what we’re going to encounter in those situations…for the most part. In truth, it isn’t really a comfort zone we fall into but a “comfort rut” which isn’t a good thing.

But, when we fall into that trap in training, especially preparing for Selection, you can not only get stagnant but risk failure as well. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and when working out we all have our favorite exercises which we do religiously. Why? Because we’re good at them.

The biggest fear we all have as Special Operations Forces is failing. Failing is not an option and no one anywhere ever wants to fail at anything. It is why we’re as competitive playing trivia games as we are strapping on a rucksack and knowing we have to beat the clock.

Perhaps the second biggest fear is looking foolish doing something, especially among our peers. And very, very few people are good at things the first time that they try something. That’s why we must ensure to break thru that wall of uncertainty and leave our comfort zone when prepping for Selection.

Are you an excellent runner but not a very good rucker? Chances are that you probably don’t like rucksack marching as a result and avoid it if the opportunity avails itself. It happens to all of us and we’ve all been there.

When I was young, I had a phobia for speaking in public. It wasn’t until college that I finally got over that. How? I had a professor that broke it down what exactly I was afraid of (and those fears were truly nothing to fear) and allowed me to break thru that wall. While no one will ever confuse me with say a Winston Churchill as an orator, now I actually do enjoy it and as anyone on the line when we do a writer’s call will tell you; getting me to talk isn’t the problem, but they’ll probably be wondering when that guy will shut the hell up.

When training for SF, I was a good but not great runner. I could easily run for distance but was never one of the faster guys. I also sucked at climbing ropes, and again, the truth be told, I’m still not great at it. But my training partner was a deer in the running department and as he used to say, “a rope-climbing MFer”. He wasn’t a great rucker so we decided to work out together. Because I liked to ruck, he was forced to do that more than he probably would have on his own. And we incorporated much more rope climbing than I would have done otherwise. We pushed each other out of our comfort rut and both ended up successful in the end.

I never enjoyed leg training back then, but after working together, it ended up being one of our more fun days of the week as we’d push each other to where we could barely walk down the stairs after some of those workouts. Hardly a leg day at the gym now doesn’t come by without my thinking of my buddy back in the day.

It wasn’t until years later, with my running that I was able to get more speed out of these old bones. I met a football coach working out at a local track, he was running some laps and then was doing a series of sprints. We spoke and I told him I had tons of endurance but no speed. “Then do something about it,” he said. By foregoing the normal distance run, we worked on sprint work which not only improved my endurance but my speed as well. Just that little extra push helps.

Today I employ a personal trainer three times a week to push my butt into doing things that I know I wouldn’t choose to do, yes even us FOGs still fall into that trap.

Remember, you won’t be able to truly challenge yourself until you reach a stage that is uncomfortable for you. Don’t let the fear of initial failure stop you from trying. Visualize success and take pleasure in the small victories of progress. Then enjoy the process and push yourself into success.

One last thing, getting out of your “comfort zone” is the path to what professional athletes refer to being “in the zone” which is when you are operating at peak performance.

So today is Leg Day at the gym right? Most of you hate Leg Day… time for that to change. Get you some! DOL.

Photo: US Army