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Expanding the Comfort Zone

Thirty minutes after telling me that she’s scared in her body, fully nervous about going outside to play, my client is balancing along a curb, along the wooden edging of a sandpit, along a spring-mounted bench and telling me how she often walks along yellow lines pretending she’s on a tightrope. She’d forgotten or discounted that. It made me laugh out loud. To see her rediscovering, indulging that yearning, was so wonderful.

There’s something special about balance. When I slackline, balancing on a tape stretched between two trees, people want to come and see, come and chat. Kids always want to try – adults too, though they’re less likely to ask. Then they get hooked. Somehow balance has a perfect interplay of challenge and accessibility. It feels within reach, which makes it appealing, addictive. Something that’s too easy is boring. Something too hard is defeating. Within reach hits that sweet spot where we want to keep working at it.

The breadth of ‘reach’ varies from person to person. Some are confident in their ability to learn, to develop, and their concept of 'within reach' is wide. They’ll see something far off and think yes, I can get there, I see the path. Others have less faith in their ability to develop, their range is smaller. They need something to be much closer to where they are in order to feel that excitement, that encouragement. Too far away and they turn away disheartened, look for a nearer goal. That’s when lives get confined, when we convince ourselves that our reach is small. The circle of what we can achieve shrinks around us, and we find ourselves trapped in its boundaries.

That’s where coaching comes in. Coaching helps people who have got compressed to reset, expand their range of what they consider ‘within reach’. When that reach is wide, we can live adventurous lives, we go after things which are​​ far away, which take work and dedication and deliver huge progress, huge distance travelled. When someone extends their sense of reach, all of this opens up to them.

Movement is a perfect way to do that. There’s such a clear, linear, measurable relationship between trying and getting better. Be it balance or jumping or flowing in a space, the first time might feel unsure, awkward. The next time, you’re a little better. By the tenth time there’s confidence, flow. Then you move higher, harder, more complex. Your brain learns to deal with the new information, your body learns to control itself more exactly. The process repeats and repeats and each time you get better, stronger, more capable, less scared. Small increments, until you look back and see how far you’ve come and think wow, my range was bigger than I realised.

That's where I'm privileged to work.


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