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  • Dr Mehmet Yildiz

    What Does It Take To Live Above And Beyond?

    Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash

    A heroic life might be what our heart and soul desire, but only a small number of us can achieve this goal. Most of us scale between various ranges based on our capabilities, effort, and aspirations.

    Despite medical advances and lifestyle options, life is still short. I haven't heard of anyone who has lived over 130 years so far. The last time I checked the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest living human being is Kane Tanaka, 118 years old, as verified in February 2020.

    Most of us live our lives in mediocrity. However, mediocrity does not satisfy the aspirations that come from our hearts and souls. But some of us insist on living in mediocrity. Why do we do that?

    My opinion is part of our primitive and emotional brain causes this. Our reptilian brain always operates in survival mode addicted to comfort. We are hard-wired for this conceptual and physical position. And our emotional brain creates a comfort zone to protect us from discomfort.

    This comfort zone keeps us cosy and gives a false sense of security to keep us safe physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    Many business leaders, leadership coaches, and philosophers discuss the issues created by our comfort zone.

    From my personal and professional life experience, I believe that the most fundamental requirement of living an extraordinary life is stepping outside of our comfort zone.

    I characterize moving from comfort to the next, “stretch” zone as fundamental because there are other zones to consider in this logical framework as well. My purpose is to introduce these conceptual zones and explain how each zone contributes to a more astonishing life.

    From my observations, there are four distinct zones that we can visualize.

    • Comfort Zone
    • Stretch Zone
    • Risk Zone
    • Danger Zone

    Let me share my perspectives about each zone.

    The comfort zone represents the behavioural components originating from our brain’s reptilian (primitive) and limbic system (emotional) parts.

    Common behaviour patterns in this zone reflect traits like enjoying comfortable work, eating comfort food, drinking sugary beverages, refraining from exercise, talking with only familiar people.
    Photo by Max Titov on Unsplash

    This zone reflects most basic human survival actions and behaviour.

    The next zone is called the stretch zone. This zone is the gateway to a better life.

    Common behaviour patterns in this zone can be getting up on time, studying hard to pass school exams and getting a new degree, finding a more challenging job, reducing the clutter at home and in the office, exercising regularly, refraining from comforts foods, enjoying outdoor activities, and being able to talk with anyone with confidence.

    Constantly operating in this zone can rewire our brain. As a result, our body and mind grow rapidly and sustainably. In addition, we experience dopamine spikes more frequently; hence we stay motivated and achieve more each day.

    Some of us may go a step further. For example, those with an entrepreneurial spirit aim to live a more active and productive lifestyle benefiting themselves and society.

    I call it the risk zone. In this zone, people invest in new businesses, generate new revenue streams, conduct research in demanding subjects, innovate and invent, publish articles and books, speak in conferences, aim to be an athlete, collaborate with like-minded business partners, and constantly grow by taking calculated risks.

    Constantly operating in the risk zone can be challenging, but the brain rewires fast and we are more effective. This rewiring can bring new versions of ourselves. Our physical and mental health improves.

    People living in this zone can have a growth mindset. They see every failure as a learning lesson for building success in the path.

    Those who live in this zone tolerate uncertainties and act with courage. They turn fear into motivation to explore. They turn pain into pleasure. These people become leaders in their field. People admire leaders serving in the risk zone. They are easily distinguishable.

    You can recognize those who operate in risk zone from their occupations too. They manifest as elite athletes, successful entrepreneurs, authentic influencers, admirable celebrities, inventors, novel laureates, best-selling authors, and philanthropists. The list goes on for those we admire, follow, and want to model.
    Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash

    So far, by reading biographies of successful leaders, I found the risk zone the optimal one for growth, leading to a satisfactory individual and professional life.

    However, there is another zone that I call it the danger zone. Interestingly, this is real, and a small group of people want to operate in this zone to live a heroic life.

    They are fearless people. For them, life is experienced to taste everything possible in human capability. Therefore, they have no fear of trying new things beyond physical, mental and emotional boundaries.

    This zone is not for everyone. Unless they are a genius and have superior human capabilities, people acting in this zone can burn out quickly and harm themselves.

    We know that some extremely ambitious businesspeople operating in the danger zone fail miserably by losing their health, family, motivation, and core values.

    I am not saying this zone is good or bad, but it is the most challenging one and needs to be selected with caution.

    I personally cannot operate in a danger zone as I know and accept my limitations. However, I have seen people loving this zone.

    The optimal zone I can operate is between stretch and risk zones. Switching between these two zones produced the best outcomes for my goals.

    We are all different individuals who can operate in various zones. However, if we want to live a meaningful and more satisfying life, it looks like we need to move out of our comfort zone and try other zones based on our capabilities and aspirations. The low hanging fruit seems to be the stretch zone keeping us in constant growth steadily.

    Thank you for reading my perspectives.

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