I’m a huge fan of comfort zones. I mean, who isn’t? Who doesn’t like to be in situations where you feel secure or at ease, without any stress? Comfort zones are great. But here’s the thing, growth doesn’t really happen when you’re chillin’ in the C-zone (C-zone stands for comfort zone. It has a nice ring to it, don’t ya think?).
A new client of mine.
A few weeks ago I took on a new private client. This terrific middle school-aged boy has an awesome smile and heart of gold. I’m truly enjoying my time getting to know him and we’re having a blast in therapy, but what makes all of this a bit challenging for me is the fact that none of his goals and objectives relate to articulation or stuttering. This reality is a bit out of my ordinary because historically, an overwhelming majority of my private clients have been either kiddos with articulation difficulties or kiddos who stutter.
Ya gotta think about your C-zone.
By no means am I saying that I can’t handle what this particular child’s needs are. I absolutely can, but this is the perfect example of how I made the decision to think about my C-zone. If I wanted to stay comfortable, I would have simply not taken on this new client. And that would have been a real shame because he and his family needed me. So, I made the decision to get out of my C-zone because not only did I want to grow my clinical abilities, but I wanted to do everything I could for this boy. I could see his potential. I knew that this flower could blossom as an effective and confident communicator. He just needed a bit of water and sunshine from me.
Getting out of your C-zone is a win/win.
Because of this kiddo, I’ve had the opportunity to correspond with therapists and other professionals that I would have never corresponded with. They’ve all been terrific with giving me feedback on my therapy ideas. They’ve also directed me to a massive number of resources that I would have never thought to check out. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve helped my client a lot. This whole experience has been such a positive one and I can’t help but say to myself, “What if I chose to stay in my C-zone?” What a missed opportunity.
Recently, my good friend Mary Huston and I were chatting about comfort zones and she said it perfectly. “Comfort zones are very . . . safe. I think most people prefer to be in a comfort zone, not because it’s a good place, but because it’s a known place. Change is scary, very scary, but without change things become stagnant and stale. In order to grow as a person and LIVE, we have to accept that fear of the unknown and if not embrace change, accept it.”
Let’s do something scary.
Let’s be brave. I want all of us speech-language pathologists to step away from our C-zone so that we could continue grow. But believe me, I know the whole “let’s be brave”thing is waaaaay easier said than done. Don’t worry – we don’t have to do something CRAZY. How about something a bit on the smaller side? Perhaps you could administer a brand new diagnostic that you’ve never administered before. Who knows, it very well might turn out to be your new favorite diagnostic. That doesn’t sound too scary, does it? That’s totally something we could do to step away from our C-zone. Pretty good first step!
Let’s do something a bit scarier.
Something else you might want to think about is presenting. Have you ever presented some speech-language therapy information to your colleagues before? If the answer is no, I believe you should think about doing it. Submit a proposal to present something at any upcoming speech-language-hearing conference, just like Kim from ActivityTailor.com did. Or better yet, team up with a colleague to present together because two heads are always better than one. In my humble opinion, presenting in front of a live audience is one of the best ways to step away from our C-zone. Totally a step in the right direction!
In closing . . .
I just want you to know that you’re a spectacular speech-language pathologist. And you know what else? I can feel it in my bones that you’re just getting started. So do me a favor, over the next few weeks, I would love for you to think about your own C-zone. Are you a bit too comfortable right now? If so, this is the ideal time to try something new so that you can grow, both professionally and personally. Take on a new private client like I did. Or start a blog like some of my colleagues have done. From administering new diagnostics to presenting at a conference, the possibilities to move away from you C-zone are endless. The only thing that matters is moving forward. If you’re moving forward, that’s what it’s all about.