For several years now I have challenged my students to expand their comfort zones.
In this post I first describe the importance of stepping outside of one's comfort zone. Then I describe the concept of the “comfort zone.” I then detail the assignment provided to my college students. Thereafter follows a sampling of the student responses.
WHY IS STEPPING OUTSIDE ONE'S "COMFORT ZONE" SO IMPORTANT?
I suggest you watch this short video: Measuring Your Comfort Zone (Marcus Taylor at TedX / Melbourne) (5:50). As seen, continually expanding your own comfort zone leads simply to this - success, in all aspects of your life.
Here are some comments from my students who undertook these "Expand Your Comfort Zone" activities:
- “Some students don’t really understand the point of these exercises. But, it’s teaching the confidence that you need to survive in the business world.”
- “I never realized how much you could be missing out on when you stay within your safe day-to-day routine. Although not every experience was a pleasant one I still enjoyed all of these exercises.”
- “I feel that doing things which are uncomfortable can make life more worthwhile.”
- “I know some of these tasks might come by easy to some people, but they were hard ones for me. I realize that stepping outside your comfort zone not only builds strength, but it also helps you realize things about yourself you would have never known if you didn’t do the unusual.”
- “I would do this project one hundred times over again.”
Taking action to step outside of your comfort zone distinguishes between those individuals that continually learn, develop and stretch themselves, ultimately leading to a more successful and fulfilling life, in comparison to those that don’t. Realize that college is not just about acquiring knowledge. Rather, college is also a time to learn or enhance social skills, overcome artificial barriers, obtain confidence, and learn to embrace all that life has to offer.
In summary, you will become a better person as a result of these activities; you will learn skills and adopt traits that will propel you to success in all aspects of your life.
- What activity did you do?
- How did you feel about the chosen activity, before you undertook it?
- What was the result of the activity? And, did the activity truly challenge you?
- How did you feel about the activity, after you undertook it?
- Would your recommend the activity to others?
- Is there anything you would do to change the activity?
THE EYCZ EXERCISES
Over time, new activities have been suggested by students, and as a result the list has expanded from its original 20 activities. Here's the current list:
1. Create Your Own “EYCZ” Activity. It must be an activity that scares you. (It does not matter if the activity is something that would not scare anyone else.)
- For example: Some students have never driven on the interstate highway before, or driven on a highway in a large city (such as Nashville); they accept the challenge to overcome that fear.
2. Attend the PEAK “Etiquette Dinner.” Students really, really enjoyed this, last semester. It’s a fun time, and you’ll learn important skills that will give you confidence when a future employer asks you out to lunch or dinner. Usually held in April of each year.
3. Attend the PEAK “Perfect Your Interview” Program. Professionals from the Bowling Green community will come to campus to conduct mock interview sessions, providing feedback on your answers as well as nonverbal behaviors. Students will need to make appointments for the 30-minute sessions.
- Find out more about the award-winning Gordon Ford College of Business P.E.A.K. Program at http://www.wku.edu/business/peak/.
5. Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Internship and/or Job Shadowing Possibilities with the Gordon Ford College of Business Internship Coordinator.
6. Attend the Gordon Ford College of Business Job Fair.
- Date: February 15, 2017 from 1PM to 4PM CST
- Location: Downing Student Union 3rd Floor, WKU's Bowling Green Campus
- Details: Students and Alumni from the College of Business will be in attendance, as well as employers
- Dress up!
- Have your resume with you! Preferably, have a “portfolio” (leather bound pad) with you.
- ATTEND THE JOB FAIR EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT YET LOOKING FOR AN INTERNSHIP OR JOB. Interview employers. Find out what employers are looking for, when they come to a Job Fair. Ask them what makes candidates “stand out.” Ask them what they would recommend to college juniors/seniors, in terms of preparing for a career.
- FIRST: Take the free online Myers Briggs test, found at: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp. What is your personality type (4 letters, such as “ENFP”). Now Google search for your four letters plus the word “careers.” (Ex: ISTJ careers). Look at several different web pages. Write down a list of various careers that you find appealing, and that match your personality type.
- SECOND: Since no personality test is 100% accurate, it is best – especially with the important decision of choosing (or confirming) a career path – to further delve into your strengths and aptitudes. Fortunately, WKU has the free resources for you. MyPlan is a website that helps you narrow your career options. By taking a few assessments that'll take in your preferences, personality, skills, and interests a quick and awesome list of suggestions will be the result that'll guide you to a successful career. Visit http://www.wku.edu/career/services/myplan.php - sign in and complete the assessment, and print and review the report.
- NOTE: If you remain uncertain about your choice of career, you might:
- Consult with a WKU Career Counselor. To schedule an appointment, visit http://www.wku.edu/career/services/talk_to_a_counselor.php.
- Speak to a professor in a major associated with one or more of your possible careers.
- Reach out to WKU alumni, or others, who work in the fields you are interested in. Ask to interview them about their experiences, what a “day in the life” of their job is like, what they enjoy most (and least) about their jobs, and seek out advice they would have for a college student.
- To gain points, now write a post on the Discussion Board. (See instructions, above.) And review and comment on other students’ posts.
9. Take a Professor to Lunch. The “Dutch Treat” rule applies – i.e., each person pays for his or her own lunch. Agree to meet at the professor’s office, and/or at a WKU eating facility.
- Hint: Da Bear likes to eat lunch at RedZone, in the Downing Student Union. Just email him and suggest dates/times.
- Further hint: Read the professor’s bio, as posted to his/her WKU web page. For example, https://www.wku.edu/business/staff/ron_rhoades. Also do a “Google search” about anyone you will be meeting with. This is a good tip for the business world, as well. Find out about those who you interview with, or who are prospects that you will be meeting with.
11. Participate in a Field Trip. This might include attending an industry conference or symposium, visiting a firm (with a group of other students), or some other field trip that is sponsored by any of the Departments in the Gordon Ford College of Business. During the field trip you must have a conversation with someone you don’t know, and learn about them.
12. Apply for a Nationally Competitive Scholarship through WKU’s Office of Scholar Development (OSD). Visit http://www.wku.edu/osd/. You need not win, but you must undertake a good faith effort to complete and submit the application for a competitive scholarship. Describe the process of applying for the scholarship, and the assistance you received from OSD, in your essay.
13. Give at least three people compliments on any day, when you normally would not (counts as one activity). At least one compliment must be given to a person of each gender.
14. Smile at (all) strangers, and say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” or “Hi” to all the people you pass by, for one entire day – and wherever you are!
- Better yet – the Gordon Ford College of Business sponsors “Smile, Greet & Engage Days” this Spring. Participate by following the instructions for this event.
As a suggestion, on your smart phone schedule a reminder for your “bed time” – i.e., to remind you to begin preparation to go to bed.
Also, consider downloading a “sleep aid” app for your smart phone. Search the app store for your type of phone by just putting the word “sleep” in the search function.
16. Speak up in a class – when you normally would not. Ask a question or comment upon a statement made by another, or answer a question, voluntarily. (If you are required by your professor to answer a question, give a presentation, or if you are given an assignment that requires your participation, this does not count for points in this class. However, if you are not required to speak up or give a presentation or answer a question, this will count – even if general “class participation” points may result in your other class.)
17. Thank a friend or family member for their ongoing support. Call them up, or see them, and express gratitude for all they have done for you. Warning … this is a powerful exercise! The results will likely surprise you!
18. Tell a friend they are loved. The person you tell should be a friend, but must not be your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, or someone you hope will become one of the foregoing.
19. Let go of your self-judgment for a day. And do something others would never think you would do. Feel good about yourself. If others think ill of you – they do not matter; they are no longer part of your personal universe.
20. Perform on Karaoke night. It’s not that hard! “Just do it!”
21. Join a new organization in the Bowling Green community, and/or undertake volunteering in our community.
22. Show three friends or acquaintances a YouTube or other video (such as a TedX presentation) on some aspect of self-improvement.
23. Attend a Gordon Ford College of Business guest lecture or presentation. This should be a presentation you are not required to attend, nor are seeking credit for, in any other class. The speaker must be an “outside speaker” – i.e., not a faculty member nor anyone else employed by WKU.
24. Find someone who is sitting alone for lunch or dinner or breakfast one day, and ask to sit with him or her. Interview him or her. Find out who they are. Do they like WKU? What do they like most? What would they change, if they could? Are they involved in any organizations? (If they are not – suggest one or more organizations to them.) Also, possibly (but not required): Explain to them the “Expand Your Comfort Zone” activities. Follow-up with an email or social media post to them, with a link to a video, or an event, or just a “thank you.” Or, better yet – ask the person to join you and a group of friends in going to an event or undertaking an activity.
25. Sign up for, and participate in, WKU's Dynamic Leadership Institute. Known to many as DLI, this program is designed to teach students the interpersonal skills and knowledge needed to engage in various leadership roles on campus, within the community, and in their futures. Each of the four phases allows the student to view leadership from different perspectives and provides opportunities to examine and enhance their skills. DLI is not for academic credit, but rather for self-exploration and personal development. DLI is a 6-week, 1-hour per week commitment per semester. Submit your essay to the Discussion Board on Blackboard within 1 week of your completion of the DLI program, and you will receive up to the maximum extra credit for this two-week period. (Also, comment upon another person’s submission, as set forth above.)
26. Attend “Project Affect” and Join in Undertaking Community Service. The WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships and the WKU Student Activities' Leadership & Volunteerism sponsor an awareness event called Project Affect. Project Affect is a campus and community engagement fair that offers information on how to get involved through service, as well as engages visitors in hands-on activities reflective of different causes. Approximately 600 students participated last year. Visit http://www.wku.edu/alive/meaningful-service/project_affect.php to learn more. Choose a community organization or campus organization to participate in. After providing service, write a 250 word or greater essay about your experience.
27. Unplug your t.v. and video games for one entire week. Many, many of my students choose to undertake this activity during the semester. The results are often very, very surprising!
28. Turn off your “smart” phone for one entire day. Before doing this, let your family and friends know that you will be “disconnected” for an entire day, so that they don’t worry about you.
29. Disconnect from Facebook and all other social media for two entire days.
- Hint: To do this well, delete your social media apps from your smart phone during this period of time.
- Hint: Post to others that you are disconnecting from social media for two days, first!
31. Do your math homework in the Math Lab, seeking assistance when needed.
32. See a professor, in-person or via a Skype call, for guidance on “how to do better” in a particular class, or on a particular assignment or test or exam.
33. See a professor, in-person or via a Skype call, for tips on career paths and/or “how to best network to find jobs or internships.”
34. Obtain counseling at the student health center - to talk through a problem, or to seek ideas on how to relieve stress. (If you do this and don’t want to post to the Discussion Board, just send an e-mail to Dr. Rhoades setting forth that you attended a counseling session, and just indicate whether or not the session helped you. Dr. Rhoades will then provide you with credit for this activity. You don’t need to provide any details.)
35. Apologize to someone you have done wrong to, and/or admit to another that you were wrong – in person or over the phone or via Skype.
36. Write a “personal log entry” in which you forgive someone for a wrong done to you. Let go of bitterness and anger. Let go of a grudge. (Whether you choose to communicate your forgiveness to the other person is up to you, and dependent upon the circumstances.) Warning: This can be a powerful activity!
37. Undertake a new activity to “get in shape” – for two weeks straight. For example, the activity might involve a 1-3 mile walk or run every other day, or going to the gym for 3-4 days a week.
38. Change your eating habits for the better – for one solid week. To do this well, keep a personal log of everything you eat, each day, for seven days straight.
39. Perform three “random acts of kindness” in one day (counts as one activity). For ideas on random acts of kindness you might undertake, Google search the term “random acts of kindness.” There are many random acts of kindness you can undertake that don’t involve you spending money on someone else!
40. Change your group of friends (i.e., don’t “lie down with dogs, or you will get up with fleas”). Or disassociate yourself over time from one friend who tends to drag you down.
41. Post a “success tip” once a day, each day, on your dorm room door or another place on campus, or at your place of work, or on your social media page, for five straight days. Make certain you indicate in your identity, such as: “This success tip provided courtesy of (your name).” Describe in your essay the reactions you received, and how each posting (or the reactions to it) made you feel.
42. Say “YES” to an activity another person, or group of persons, invites you to join in. Don’t be a “no” person all of your life. Say “yes” to going to an event, or engaging in an activity, that you otherwise would not do. “JUST DO IT!” (Of course, be safe!)
43. Interview a role model. Interview an elder or role model (parent, grandparent, neighbor, professor, academic advisor, etc.) about their life at your age, the decisions and struggles they faced, key success tips that helped them to get through their challenges, what they would do differently, etc.
44. Run for an office in WKU student government.
45. Seek out a leadership role within a student organization.
46. Download a “gratitude” app, and record what you are grateful for, daily. Just five minutes daily is all it takes to rewire your brain and unleash everything great in your life – and it starts with Gratitude! By practicing awareness of the positive things in life, we fight off the brain’s natural tendency to scan for and spot the negatives. As a result, we train our brains to be more positive and thus happier. A “gratitude app” – or just keep a “gratitude journal” – can change your life! Do this for seven days straight, and see what happens!
47. Create your own … “My Book of Possibilities.”
The Book of Possibilities is inspired by the movie "Last Holiday" starring Queen Latifah, in which the protagonist owns a "Book of Possibilities."
The purpose of this project is to have a binder filled with one's motivations and passions. You could bring this binder to job interviews. This show of initiative and creativity brings a unique impression to potential employers.
Elements of the book might include:
• Your biography
• Your vision statement. In formulating your personal vision statement, you might seek to answer the following questions.
o Imagine you are in an elevator, headed for the 5th floor. The person riding the elevator with you asks: “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” In the space below. write down a 20-second speech that describes who you are, presently, and/or what you hope to achieve. (For more guidance as to what you might say, Google “elevator speech”.)
o Describe your desired last job in your career. Where will you work (geographically, type of firm or company)? What is the job’s title? What are the job’s functions? How many hours a week do you work? How many vacation days do you take each year? What do you most like about the job?
o Describe the job you desire to possess five to ten years after you graduate from college. Answer the same questions as above. Also, how does this job prepare you for the desired last job in your career?
o Imagine you just started your first job in your choice of career. On your first day, your manager asks you, over lunch: “If we were sitting here five years from now, what would have had to occur, in both your professional and personal life, for you to have considered those five years a success?” (This is known in business circles as the “R-factor” question.)
• Your personal characteristics and qualities - what separates you from everyone else.
• Your own "bucket list" – a personal story that you and sets forth what you want out of life.
o TO ASCERTAIN YOUR OWN BUCKET LIST, ANSWER “THE FIVE-YEAR QUESTION”: “If a doctor told me that I had five years to live, and during that time I would be as healthy as I am now, what would you want to do or accomplish so that – at the end of your life – you had no regrets?”
o (For purposes of this question, assume – if you have or are planning to have children – that your children are fully grown, on their own, and financially stable.)
For more of Professor Rhoades' writings on how to succeed in college (and in life), visit www.triumphincollege.blogspot.com.