Climbing Out Of Your
Venuto - author of
Burn The Fat, Feed The
The Ultimate Secret to Lasting Change and High Achievement
Take a moment and think about the sum total
of everything youre currently doing to improve your health, fitness,
physique and athletic performance. Think of every detail you can - the
workouts, the dieting, the level of effort, the sweat, the time -
Now grab a pen or pencil and draw a small
circle - about the size of a golf ball - in the center of a sheet of paper.
Imagine that all the work youre doing is contained in that small circle.
Inside your circle, write the words, Where I am now: My comfort
Next, take your pen and draw another circle
outside the first one so you have two concentric circles. (If you didnt
draw the first one yet, go ahead and do it now so you have a visual).
The larger circle represents personal
growth, increased performance and positive change. In the fitness arena, that
might mean better health, higher levels of cardiovascular fitness, increased
strength, larger muscles or decreased body fat. In sports it might mean
performing a skill or event at a higher level of competency.
If youre not seeing the changes you
want a frustration so many people are experiencing today - it means
youre staying completely inside that circle of comfort most of the time.
In order to make a positive change in your life, you have to expand your
boundaries by climbing outside your comfort zone.
If thats all there is to it if
a little step outside your comfort zone is all it takes to grow and improve,
then why dont more people do it? What makes that little step so
The answer is simple: In the space between
your two circles, write the word, "pain" a few times, all the way around the
You see, the second you leave your comfort
zone, you experience pain, DIS-comfort and awkwardness. Since all positive
changes take place outside the comfort zone, change is painful. The very
instant most people feel the pain, they pull back inside the comfort zone. This
is the reason why most people fail to improve themselves or create lasting
changes in their lives: They are unwilling to put up with the pain of
The pain were talking about may be:
(1) the physical pain of muscles aching and lungs burning, (2) it may be the
emotional "pain" of feeling awkward and clumsy at doing something new (such as
a complicated exercise or athletic maneuver), or (3) it may be the
pain of discipline and sacrifice. (For example, saying no to
dessert, getting up at 5:30 a.m. for cardio, or passing up on a night out at
the bars with your friends). Most likely, its all three types of
The statement no pain, no gain,
has been misinterpreted, criticized and labeled a fallacy by many. However, the
people doing the criticizing are almost always comfort zoners who
havent achieved much with their lives. Dont listen to them. Never
follow the herd (unless you want to step in a lot of manure). Instead, follow
the small percentage of people who step out and achieve great things.
Achievement expert Brian Tracy says, "90%
to 95% of people will withdraw to the comfort zone when what they try doesn't
work. Only that small percentage, 5 or 10 percent, will continually raise the
bar on themselves; they will continually push themselves out into the zone of
discomfort, and these are always the highest performers in every
Studies at the University of Chicago by
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal
Experience, concluded that the highest achievers are those who consistently
push themselves out of their comfort zones. Instead of withdrawing to their
comfort zones when they don't get immediate positive results, they force
themselves to stay at this awkward, uncomfortable and painful (but higher and
better) level of performance until the pain finally subsides and they become
comfortable at the new higher level.
Heres something important you need to
know about pain: Tom Hopkins, a sales trainer and one of the worlds top
motivational speakers, taught me this lesson many years ago and It's been
burned into my brain ever since. He said, The pain of every change is
forgotten when the benefits of that change are realized.
If you ask a champion in any field of
endeavor, you will find that rather than avoid pain, they embrace it and accept
it as part of the game they must play to win. Champions realize that pain
equals growth and the benefits far outweigh the discomfort.
Seven-Time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenneger
said, "I realized that pain could become pleasure. We were benefiting from
pain. We were breaking through the pain barrier and shocking the muscles. I
looked at this pain as a positive thing, because I grew."
Cyclist Lance Armstrong put it this way:
"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year,
but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I
quit however, it lasts forever."
Muhammad Ali said it like this: "I hated
every minute of the training. But I said to myself, bear the pain now and live
the rest of your life as a champion."
Go back and look at your circles again. Do
you realize that it may be entirely possible to continue expanding your circles
to infinity? Draw a third one. And a fourth. Imagine yourself climbing up out
of your comfort zone to these higher levels and look back at how small the
space is that you used to occupy. You have far greater potential than
youve ever imagined.
In William James essay, On Vital
Reserves: Energies of Men, he wrote, "Compared to what we ought to be,
we are only half awake. Our fires are dampened, our drafts are checked. We are
making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.
The human individual thus lives usually far within his limits; he possesses
powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use. He energizes below
his maximum, and he behaves below his optimum."
Its a widely accepted fact that we
only use a tiny fraction of our physical potential and even less of our minds.
However, no true expert in human potential today would ever dare set a definite
limit on what we are ultimately capable of achieving because for all practical
purposes, our potential is literally infinite.
Have we seen any slowdown in athletic,
intellectual, spiritual and scientific advancement during our lifetimes? Quite
the opposite; the curve of progress is accelerating thanks to the brave souls
who had the courage to step out their comfort zones. Meanwhile, the mediocre
masses are left further and further behind because they would rather pull back
into the apparent comfort and stability of their small circles
rather than step forward through pain and into growth.
Ironically, when someone says,
Im happy just staying right where I am, he or she is
demonstrating their ignorance of a basic law of nature. Its the natural
law that all things in the universe are either growing or decaying. There is no
standing still. Comfortably maintaining is an illusion. Truth is,
you must grow. You must push yourself beyond what youve done in the past
if you want to avoid falling behind.
You dont necessarily have to aspire to
become Mr. Olympia, Tour De France winner, or heavyweight champion of the
world, but you must continue to grow, whatever that means to you. All you have
to do is step outside your comfort zone and endure the pain of
effort, discipline, sacrifice, frustration and hard work, and your reward of
growth is as certain as the sun rising in the East tomorrow.
Soon the pain subsides, you enjoy the
benefits of the change, and the pain is forgotten. Youve reached a new,
and higher plateau of achievement. Be on guard, though, for its not long
before that higher level becomes your new comfort zone, and then its time
to press on again.
Ultimately, you cant avoid
experiencing pain of one kind or another. Project yourself into the future for
a moment; see yourself in your final days, reflecting on what youve
achieved in your lifetime
and reflecting on what you wanted to achieve,
but never attempted. As you visualize this scene, remember the words of Jim
Rohn: "We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or
the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret
Tom Venuto is a bodybuilder, gym owner, freelance writer, success
coach and author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets
of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 150
articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding,
Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Mens Exercise.
Tom's inspiring and informative articles on bodybuilding, weight loss and
motivation are featured regularly on dozens of websites worldwide. For
information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" e-book,