Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Out of the comfort zone

I wanted to take a few moments to talk about the value of stepping outside your comfort zone. About a month ago I was asked by some friends to join them on a cycling trip. It would be a trail ride, with camping gear on the bikes, and around an 80 mile round trip. To say I had never done anything like this would be an understatement. I ride a bike most days to work, but I don't consider myself a cyclist, I consider myself a commuter. My round trip to work is 6 miles, most weeks I ride 18 to 20 miles, as there are some days I will drive. This trip was outside of my comfort zone.

Just recently, an acquaintance came to me and said 'myself and a friend are thinking about doing a kayak camping trip, where should we go?' I thought about it and came up with two suggestions, one on a lake, with camping on an island. The other further away on the coast, we have world class barrier island kayaking. The coast option is more - to steal a phrase from climbing parlance - 'on the sharp end' meaning it held greater risk. We discussed those risks, and towards the end of the conversation I asked him if he wanted a third on the trip, meaning, could I go as well?

A gentleman that I paddle with on occasion is an outstanding paddler. In fact, he is a better paddler than he thinks he is. He emailed myself and another friend who paddles to ask about our experience paddling to a particular island a couple of miles from shore. He wanted to know details about currents, and timing, and weather. All excellent questions. The other paddler and myself answered his questions and assured him that this day trip with an open water crossing was well within his skill level as long as the weather was good.

These are three examples of people pushing their comfort zone. The sort of thing that makes your palms sweat, and your hair bristle. But it does other things too. Other amazing things. It heightens our senses, and it makes us better at what we do. It builds skill and confidence. Yes it's scary. The unexpected always is. But the payoff is amazing. If you want to progress at anything, you have to push your skill level, you have to travel into the uncharted waters to see how you do. And yes, from time to time you will fail. You will fail miserably. But other times you will wont. They are both equally important. Failure and success are two sides of the same coin and they both serve invaluable purposes.

So, how did these three situations turn out? The Gentleman is still thinking about it. He will make that trip to the island when he is ready, and that is a time that only he can determine. When he is ready he will have my support in any way that I can offer it.

The acquaintance, chose the trip to the coast, and his friend was excited to have me along, as this would be his first trip on this scale, and he knows I have done the same trip a number of times. His confidence is bolstered by knowing I am joining him, which is very flattering. The trip is next month and I will post with the outcome.

I did the cycling trip, and it was amazing. More difficult than I imagined, my legs - and bottom - were sore for days. While it was similar to camping out of a kayak, it was also very different. There are no hills when kayaking! I enjoyed it, but I don't know if I would do it again. For now I am happy to be a commuter. Below is the video I made on the trip.

Pedal from Brett Friedman on Vimeo.


  1. Man ..... first time I have seen this video and my butt hurts just watching it. It's amazing how your body has so many different muscle groups and it lets you know when they are used in excess.


  2. Yeah, there was some butt pain. But now as badly as I expected. I really have to attribute that to amazing coaching from Scott, Eric, and a handful of other cyclists.

    It also makes me wonder why there aren't 'paddling specific' shorts like that are bike shorts. With the pads in paddling shorts located on the sit bones.