Moving out of comfort zone to taste success

When we were confronted with the question of educating my son in the city we lived in or sending him outside the State, we sought an expert’s advice.

He said, “Send him out of the State for graduation and outside the country for post graduation”.My wife was inclined to admit our son in a reputed college in Hyderabad. It’s obvious as every mother wishes to have the child closer to home. I left it to his choice. Finally, we did not implement the expert’s first suggestion but followed the latter.

There is a message in this anecdotal experience. Mobility is critical for shaping one’s personality. You come across new people, new cultures, and make new acquaintances. More critically, you will be left to face challenges on your own.

I still recall those days when I first moved to Hyderabad from a remote village in Adilabad district. Parental concern stems from fear of the child coming under alien influences. There is a justification in such a worry. But, in the age of social media and internet explosion, physical mobility alone need not exert alien influences.
As a philosopher rightly said ‘turn the disadvantage into an advantage.’

There is lot of comfort living in a family environment with all its protective structures serving you with all the resources at its command. Gandhiji, in his autobiography, also mentions how his mother was so worried when he went abroad for higher studies.

Migration is not a pain. For all those parents who send their children outside, there is something to cheer in this. Eric Weiner in an article, ‘What is the link between Immigration and genius?’ (The Wall Street Journal) makes an interesting point.

“Scan the roster of history’s intellectual and artistic giants, and you quickly notice something remarkable: Many were immigrants or refugees, from Victor Hugo, WH Auden and Vladimir Nabokov to Nikolas Tesla, Marie Curie and Sigmund Freud. At the top of this pantheon sits the genius’s genius: Einstein”.

Hugo was an outstanding French poet, novelist, and dramatist. Auden was a distinguished English poet while Vladimir Nabokov was an acclaimed Russian-American novelist. Tesla was an inventor, who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC).

Two-time Nobel winner Madam Curie was a Polish and naturalised-French physicist and chemist, who pioneered research on radioactivity. Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis. Einstein, who immigrated from Germany to Switzerland, was the 20th century‘s greatest scientist.

Foreign-born residents account for only 13 per cent of the US population but hold nearly a third of all patents and a quarter of all Nobel Prizes awarded to Americans, according to The Wall Street Journal. Most American sports legends are of African origin.

If on the one hand, relocation causes fear and insecurity, on the other and more positive angle, this increases one’s appetite for success. The surroundings make one curious to explore and experiment. Curiosity drives success.

Whether or not these postulates are correct, the basic principle of management-convert weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities-will hold good. Nothing can be more delightful than outperforming a competitor in his backyard.

Of course, alien environment can have adverse influences. As a student of Intermediate, I was motivated to go for a film meant for adults. The ‘A’ certificate caused curiosity. But, such an aberration was not without deterrence. My family bonds, upbringing and my strong religious beliefs acted as a cultural police to regulate my deviant behaviour. Never had I repeated mistakes, not even after I became an adult.

Many Indians, whose performance is mundane back home, tend to excel outside. They are more industrious and more inclined to face challenges once out of the comfort zone. However, there are pitfalls too. It’s wrong to make sweeping generalisation on the effects of relocation on one’s achievement.

We often hear mothers having married daughters saying, “My daughter knew nothing about cooking. She used to be so irresponsible, lazy and indifferent to work. But now she is a completely changed woman after marriage”.

This transformation seen in most of the girls is precisely because the girl has moved out of her comfort zone. Kathy Caprino in an article, ‘6 Ways Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone Is Critical To Success’, (forbes.com) says, one of the most damaging things you can do is to stay for years where you’re comfortable. You need to continually push yourself out of your comfort zone.

The author of the book, Trajectory: ‘7 Career Strategies To Take You From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be’, David Van Rooy says that it is possible to be successful maintaining status quo, but true differentiation is achievable only for those who are willing to dive into new areas.

Maintaining comfort may be easier and safer, but it doesn’t often result in what is best for you. If you never feel uncomfortable in your life and career you are undoubtedly limiting your opportunities to do greater things than what you could ever have imagined!




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