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“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect. But actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey… stuff.” - This is how the Doctor in the famous British TV series Doctor Who describes time at some point. And that quote has had some attaction to me ever since I heard it first.
The quote came back into my mind lately, maybe because time has gotten a bit less linear to me recently. Everything is happening at once while at the same time not moving fast enough while at the same time finally catching up with me on things that I have been dragging along for quite a while.
As I already teasered in the last episode, this episode of The Grey Area will be the last that will be published from this platform. During the next month, the Newsletter will move to a new domain. A new house, quite literally. Next month this newsletter will be sent from the Academy of Future Skills. It will still be called “The Grey Area” and you should not notice too much of a difference. So while at the same time everything will be different, nothing will be different. Wibbly-Wobbly, Changey-Wimey … stuff…

Comfort Zone, Sunny Side Up

Comfort Zone, Sunny Side Up
Have you dared to stay in your comfort zone lately? I have. Then I got into the sucking hole that is social media. And at the end of this hole I wasn’t sure at all if, as an entrepreneur or as a human being in general, I am even allowed to be there. It seems to be the taboo word du jour of hustle culture. But as with a lot of hustle culture buzzwords, the definition of the comfort zone is a very narrow one in a lot of the discussions.

The picture of comfort zones you mostly see is that of a circle that we must step outside of in order to grow. We constantly have to push ourselves to the limit, take risks, try new things. The moral of the story is that only then can we achieve personal growth. But what happens when we step outside of our comfort zones? While there is some truth to this idea of growth by discomfort, I do wonder if this is actually the whole picture or even if circles are the right picture to choose.

I imagine comfort zones more in the shape of a breakfast egg, sunny side up. Different people may have different levels of comfort and discomfort. Even I myself have different levels for different areas of my life. What may be outside of one person's comfort zone may be well within another’s. What may be out of the comfort zone in one area might be completely comfortable in another.

When did comfort become such a bad thing in the first place? We book first-class seats in trains because the added comfort on the journey allows us to arrive at our destination in a more relaxed way. When travelling for business we invest the money, because we know we can perform better afterwards. The term "comfort zone", though, seems to carry a negative connotation only. It implies that only if we leave our comfort zones we can achieve personal growth. Comfort is not a bad thing, and it is not something that we need to be driven out of.

So maybe, instead of thinking of comfort zones as circles that we must step outside of, we can start seeing them more as houses. Just like our homes, there are different areas with different purposes and thus different interiors. Comfort zones are places where we can take care of ourselves, recharge our batteries, and process the world around us. We need to clean and tidy them up from time to time and bring stuff to the landfill. But most importantly, they are there as a safe haven for us. They are safe spaces that provide us with security and familiarity.

Sometimes, we need to move houses. Our new home may not feel like home yet, and we may not feel quite relaxed. But with time and effort, we can make it our own and feel comfortable again. In the same way, we can expand our comfort zones by breaking down the walls and barriers around them. We can identify the areas that are holding us back and work to expand our comfort zones in those areas.

Expanding our comfort zones is not always easy. It can be uncomfortable, and we may experience fear and anxiety. So it is important to remember that growth does not always mean jumping head first out of our comfort zones. Instead, it starts with breaking down the barriers and walls around them. We need to take care of ourselves to grow and expand our comfort zones. It’s just like the oxygen masks in the airplane: Put your mask on first before jumping out of your comfort zone! Only when we take care of ourselves, we are well equipped to face the challenges that come with expanding our comfort zones.

Growth is a journey, not a destination. It is about finding joy in the journey and embracing the ups and downs. It is about breaking down the walls and barriers that keep us from living our best lives. And sometimes this means just taking a step back, snuggling into the blanket and having a good tea while being hit by the realisation that not all growth happens outside the comfort zone.

What others wrote

No text I ever write just comes out of my brain from some form of abyss. I am not that genius creative. I read a lot of stuff that forms my opinion. Not all of it makes it into my articles. Some things are just a brain tickler. So I will share good pieces with you, so maybe they also tickle your brain.
A lot of misunderstandings between humans can be followed back to a failure of understanding the circumstances the other person is in. Some of those misunderstandings can be dealt with by asking questions. Not all of those questions can be sufficiently answered. “It’s the culture” is one way to answer those questions. But can that actually be enough? Do we have to unconditionally accept those answers? I guess there is a lot of Grey Area to that, and this excellent piece of writing gives good food for thought for a way to approach those questions.
Following up on the topic of Culture, here’s another one: Who decides what is valuable art? Who do we give the authority to decide that? And some food for thought from me, in addition to the article: How can we use those mechanisms to change the club?
And, as all good comes in three, here’s another piece of culture. Though, more in the sense of “Where are we going from here”. If you think ChatGPT has crossed the uncanny valley and has become too humane, you are in good company. Even a New York Times tech journalist thinks so... However, I recommend you to read this piece and think again. In my opinion the current uproar about AI systems out there says more about what we have learned to worship rather than the engineering skills of programmers. If a chat bot can statistically determine what sounds good to us and do most of our job, maybe we should start considering what we have worshipped in the past to end up here.
This month I want to recommend you "Humankind" by Rutger Bregman
"The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think" - Harper Lee

A word from ...

Book Cover The Fearless Organization
We are told that people, when it comes down to it, only behave in their own best interest. That humankind is inherently selfish. Inherently ignorant. Inherently malicious.
But what if that was not all there is? What if we were inherently good, trustful and cooperative?
Rutger Bregman is exploring this theory in this book and gives us a peak into what a wonderful world we are actually already be living in.

The Good News

I am a space nerd. I like space. And every once in a while it hits me what random struggles women have to go through to take part in this chapter of human exploration. So here’s one step towards taking our seat at the space table. Even if the food served on this table is not necessarily the creme de la creme.
That's it for this month. Thanks for reading the 16th Edition and for your support. Please let me know what you think of the newsletter. All feedback welcome!
And on a last note, just to let you know: This newsletter, as any, was made by the loving support of snacks, coffee, and the vastness of the internet.
We actively want to bring in colours, not just lighten the place up! We want to create the space, where ideas from other dimensions are included, where thoughts outside of the black and white realm find a touchpoint with the spectrum. We want to explore possibilities how our society can be a better one when we don’t fight the unknown but embrace it with open arms and a curious mind. It is an offer to think differently. It’s an offer for different views, opinions and insights so that the “One Size Fits All” story becomes a range of various stories that show us the immense beauty of what humans can create.
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