The Comfort Zone
I’m used to life outside of the comfort zone. As suggested, this leaves you in a regular state of discomfort. Is this a good thing? Take the analogy of the archery bow – as a rested bow, it is a piece of wood with some string attached to it. Apply pressure and the bow will either snap, or it will become lethal. Over time, the archer learns exactly how much pressure they can apply to get the most out of their equipment without reaching that crucial breaking point. This is a good analogy for life. Without the regular application of pressure, you can never tell how good you are or where your breaking points are. This allows you to keep pushing and pushing, expanding your own capacity without reaching that crucial breaking point.
I’ve lived outside of this comfort zone in many ways, whether that was through military training where the instructors are more aware of your breaking points than you are; through combat deployment where you and your team are constantly under pressure, and new limits are constantly required. I’ve lived this through training for high level sport, where the right balance between maintaining a body that is capable of being trained and stressing the body to create the right training response are so fine. I’ve also lived this in my own personal education and development, undertaking exams, voluntary study and placing myself before experts for scrutiny to achieve progression – achieving a PhD was difficult, stressful and all-consuming, but I have come out of it intact, and more aware of my own capabilities than ever before.
As an amputee, life can be one big foray outside of the comfort zone, with stresses and strains placed upon the body in ways in which you’ve never experienced before. This is particularly obvious in the early days where your stumps are constantly changing in size, you haven’t learned your prosthesis yet, and you haven’t adjusted your own mental ideas of your new body. But with time, and with an appropriate level of applied stress, you learn and grow and adapt. This mantra of constant, but measured stress has led me to success in rehabilitation, in family life, in the Invictus and Paralympic Games, and taken me to a new level in becoming a Doctor. Will you be the rested bow – comfortable but less than you could be, or will you be the weapon?