To learn new things is challenging. When you stay inside your comfort zone, not being challenged, you’re probably not learning new things. This is fine if you want to refine things you already know, but to blaze new ground demands that you be outside of where you feel 100% safe.
In the photo above, participants of our fall semester are looking at a rip and choosing a route to snub. They have been taught what to do, how to deal with a mishap, self rescue, etc., and all that is left is to do it. This is where the growth and learning happen, but also where the fear lives. In such situations, anxiety levels are high. But after successfully navigating the rip, the anxiety passes. If they run the same rip again, there is less anxiety. This is how experience is the antidote to fear.
There used to be a common bumper sticker that stated “No Fear”. While I’m all for acting in spite of fear, having none is akin to carelessness. A little bit of fear is good because it keeps us from relaxing too much and becoming complacent. It’s fear that teaches respect, by knowing what could happen if we don’t take things seriously. Respect makes us master the skills and techniques that keep us safe.
Learning how to be outside your comfort zone and to live with a little fear, when done regularly, can become your new normal. Living with this new normal can help you on the path to mastery.