By Heather Bonynge
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
-T. S. Eliot
A few months ago, a dear friend and myself were standing in the foyer of our childrens’ school. We were casually chatting about our kids and the activities they had been participating in recently when the conversation turned to something he had done just the other day. He had given a presentation to a group of business students about his own experience with starting a company. He told me this was the first time he had ever done something like this, and he opened with a quote by Robin Sharma:
“Greatness begins beyond your comfort zone.”
I remember thinking he couldn’t have started with a better quote; that one was perfect! Here he was, speaking in front of a large group of impressionable students, doing something completely out of his comfort zone, and demonstrating to them first-hand exactly what he could achieve by doing exactly that!
Those six words have stayed with me ever since. They have made me think about my own comfort zones, and the times I have pushed myself beyond them to places I was maybe unsure of, or on to a path that I didn’t necessarily know where it headed. It was once I was able to look back on these choices that I could see that by pushing limits and taking risks, I somehow ended up exactly where I was supposed to be.
The first risk I took was shortly after I graduated from high school. I broke off a relationship with a guy I had been dating since grade nine, took a step away from everything I had known for the past three years, and made the choice to move back towards the path I felt I had lost, or to possibly discover a whole new one. My new direction took me towards the airport, onto a plane, and across the Atlantic Ocean to the United Kingdom!
I spent my second year after high school travelling and working in the United Kingdom. I got a job, found a flat, and lived each day in the moment. My decisions were completely my own, I did exactly what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and just waited to see what came next.
By taking that risk and moving away from everything I knew, I gained a renewed sense of confidence, accomplishment, and contentment that I had been missing in my life for a long time. I had a general idea of the outcome I hoped to achieve by moving overseas, but I also had a lot of feelings of uncertainty and doubt. I knew I had to look passed those and just do it, for no other reason than something in my gut just told me it was the right thing to do.
My second risk came as a result of my first step out of my comfort zone. Along my travels through the United Kingdom, I met someone, and fell in love. Falling in love is always a risk, and a step outside of one’s comfort zone. I’d been in love before, but this time was different. From the first moment I saw him outside the window of Blockbuster, I thought, “This is the guy I am supposed to marry.”
I must have been crazy! I hadn’t even had a conversation with him yet. Once I did, though, the feeling and the thought didn’t go away. I tried to convince myself otherwise for a month. I was from Canada, and he was from South Africa. I had only spent a total of maybe eight hours with him; how did I think this was ever going to work?
I couldn’t help it. The more I thought about it, and about him, the more I knew that if I left the UK, and didn’t see where this was going, I would regret it for the rest of my life. So I went for it! It was a risk, but I stopped thinking about it, and just let it be what it would be. I gave myself permission to get a little bit crazy, and again it just felt right! After fifteen years together and thirteen years of marriage, there is not a day that I ever regret taking that risk!
It has been during those times in my life when I listened to what my gut was telling me, and followed what was truly in my heart and true to me, that I have made my best choices, and found direction.
A year and a half ago, YACC posted on their website and on Facebook that they were looking for people to become part of their team. They would be selecting a number of individuals to become part of their newest tier of Survivors in Action, in a role they had cleverly called YACCtivists. Some of the criteria of this new position would be public speaking, networking with schools and community organizations, and of course, the time to do all of this.
From the moment the ad was posted, I knew this was something I wanted to do. I could remember back to when I was 17-years-old, and all I had ever wanted to be was a motivational speaker and to be involved in planning community events. This was my chance to live my dream! Allowing myself to have that dream, but then allowing myself to actually act upon it, were two completely different situations. I had a lot of hesitation and doubt.
I had no time. I worked, had a family, taught dancing, owned a home; I was busy enough already! I didn’t have time to add another thing to my plate. I rarely had a moment to myself as it was.
Public speaking wasn’t so scary for me. It was something I had always been passionate about, and I had some experience with it from running my own dance school for years, and acting as the emcee at many of our recitals and events. What I was more nervous about was my ability to bring my message to schools, and wondering if I actually had anything worth saying.
So I didn’t apply that first day. Or the second day. Or the third. I didn’t apply for over a week. I had actually decided at one point that I was not going to apply at all, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Just like when I was sitting on the train, travelling across the UK, listening to the clank of the wheels telling me to go for it with my now husband, there was a constant rhythm in my head that was telling me this was something I had to do, too.
You know the rest, and the outcome of my decision to take that risk; and there has not been a day since that I have not felt that it was one hundred percent the right choice to make.
So what I want to know, is there a decision, a risk, or a step outside of your own comfort zone that you have been hesitating to make? If so, what is holding you back? What is stopping you from making that change, and just going for it?
A much-loved friend of mine, and possibly yours (some of you may know him as “The Godfather”), Geoff Eaton, once said, “Allow yourself dream, and allow yourself to chase them.”
So what are you waiting for?