Do you have to be in or out of your comfort zone to create good content?

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

You’ve probably heard that we must stretch our comfort zone. The experts say we have to step out of our comfort zone to try something new. We have to feel negative, I suppose, to make it work, is another way to put that.

But why does it have to be that? Why can’t our comfort zone evolve? Does it have to feel uncomfortable?

I don’t think we have to be uncomfortable to create good content and find new strategies to drive impact through business storytelling. When I was a public safety reporter, interviewing families of murder victims wasn’t comfortable for anyone involved. Interviewing executives or celebrity influencers might also not lead to a few jitters here and there. And what about trying new content types? Indeed, it won’t feel natural from the get-go. The first time I was reporting on live TV, it was weird. No different when I started podcasting or livestreaming the podcast.

But, I don’t think we have to stretch our comfort zones to create great and valuable content. It can sometimes be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be a requirement. Heck, chasing approvals can be uncomfortable, but that level of discomfort also won’t make the content better per se.

It’s all about perspective and figuring out what we need to do to achieve our goals. So let’s dive into that in this article.


How my comfort zone has evolved

Over recent years my comfort zone has moved from being on the road nonstop and loving this environment:

Inside business class on AmericanAirlines to Europe

To this comfort zone of my home office and podcast studio:

Home office and podcast studio

In both places, you can certainly work and get stuff done. Both have their advantages, too. Working while traveling gives you build-in deadlines: It’s time to board, so let’s send that email. Or: The laptop is running out of juice, so we better get this done now. (The last one is less common now with more outlets on planes.)

And there should be a reason why you’re flying somewhere. In-person meetings certainly have advantages, but the COVID-pandemic has taught many of us that some things can just as quickly be done virtually.

And some things you do have to travel for. For example, if you’re in an industry with large equipment or other visual products, that’s hard to create visual content from just your home studio.

But if you are creating content around software – which is virtual anyways – you might be able to do that just as well and maybe even better from your home studio.

Those are different ways to create content. Both have a place in specific industries and have particular needs. But understanding which one is closer to your comfort zone to help you make better content can be helpful.

Different content types can stretch comfort zones.

Different content types can also define our comfort zones. For example, I grew up as a journalistic writer. That was my comfort zone. Then multimedia started creeping into the workflow. So did going on television. Later, podcasting became a thing, and then live streaming of podcasts.

Today, I think of the entire workflow as a hub-and-spoke model. Well, I’m not an expert at every spoke. I can run pieces of it by myself and the strategy of the entirety. When I was a journalist, I probably would’ve said that kind of model would be out of my comfort zone.

Varying workflows

I’ve seen this a few times where it’s perceived as pushing people out of their comfort zones when new workflows are introduced or even just tested?

“Why would we consider this? We’ve done it the other way for 15 years.”

Well, that’s likely the answer right there.

But, it is a reality that people are animals of habit, and that’s what the comfort zone is: It’s the habits that make us feel comfortable.

  • I get up in the morning and have my ice coffee.
  • Check-in on overnight messages and emails from the iPad and while sitting on my couch.
  • See how my Amazon, Google, and Anchor stats are looking
  • Decide where to start
  • Walk to my home office/studio
  • Content strategy/creation/etc. starts for the day based on today’s schedule and priorities

I can’t say there’s ever a real level of discomfort. That doesn’t mean there’s no new creativity. There certainly is. Let’s try:

But I don’t feel like I have to stretch myself out of my comfort zone to learn something new, and have a great collaborative session to create content differently.

Why did the “get out of your comfort zone” thing start anyway?

Partially, it’s probably the belief that to make a gain, we have to sacrifice something. But, of course, the definition of what sacrifice is can be debated. These strategies I mentioned already take time, effort, and my willingness to learn. Is that sacrifice? Not really, in my opinion. But some people might argue they are giving up time to do it. It’s just a part of the process; perhaps one could argue that it’s a better use of my time than sitting in front of the TV.

Part of the push might even come from people trying to sell us some service or product around it. “You can’t advance unless you step out of your comfort zone. Buy this pillow to make it more comfortable.”

The hypothetical pillow can’t be sold unless we believe the whole “stepping out of your comfort zone” thing.

Over the years, we likely will be pushed out of our comfort zones. It happens. Not everything will feel good, but feeling pushed or negative or whatever-related feeling shouldn’t be a requirement to be innovative and create stuff that people will care about.

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