Most people don’t step far out of their comfort zone, even though change and challenge demand that they not back off or close down. So help people feel safe in ways that enable them to truly and effectively engage with the challenges they face. Then present them with challenges that help them grow and serve quality of life for all.
Some related patterns: 18 Consulting and Abiding by Willingness
28 Equity 33 Feeling Heard 41 Groundedness 65 Privacy Guarantees 70 Range of Tolerance 90 Well-Utilized Life Energy
Safety First, Then Challenge – going deeper …
This is an edited version of the video on this page.
There’s a dance between safety and risk. Meeting challenges involves risk, safety and some vulnerability, because you can get harmed. So we want to have people feel safe. The ability to be safe potentially gives people the power to reach further out beyond their comfort zone. But we don’t want people to feel so safe that they just become lazy. We want to have a dynamic dance that develops their capacity to meet challenges. This dance is a perfect example of the yin-yang dynamic: We want to have challenge embedded in the safety, and safety embedded in the challenge.
This pattern notes that most people don’t step far out of their comfort zone. It’s much more comfortable being in your comfort zone, to not have challenges that make you go through all sorts of emotions. We often use denial and suppression to help us stay in our comfort zone. But it isn’t helpful to deny the problems in relationships, to deny climate change, to deny racial difficulty. These reactions do not allow us to actually engage with the real issues.
But if we just get the challenges thrown in our face, it is too much. For most people if you throw the challenge of climate change, or what their partner did to them, or accusations of racism – if these are thrown in their face, they will tend to react with fight or flight. They will back away and close down or they will counter-attack or get defensive, none of which actually helps address the problem.
So for us to be able to apply our intelligence and wisdom to the realms and the challenges we face, we need people to be able to step up at all different levels – on the personal, the relational, and the societal. So we need to know how to create safety and spaces where people can actually take risks and not be harmed. They’ll engage because they know that background safety is there. They can move into a space with other people that creates both safety and challenge for everyone involved.
We don’t want to create safety that has no challenges in it. But if we want people to deal with the challenges, we need to create a kind of safety that empowers them to step forward, and truly and effectively engage with the challenges they face.