The Comfort Zone

Naturi Naughton has by no means lived an average life. Only 31 years old, she has been in the public’s eye since the age of 15. At that age, she was one-third of the R&B group “3LW”, an acronym for “Three Little Women.” After releasing a few hit singles, the group released their first album – and it went platinum. Although successful, the group disbanded in 2002. Naughton would move on as a solo artist, recording 5 tracks for the “Fame” movie soundtrack. The tracks were critically acclaimed and topped the charts in Finland, Portrugal, and Norway. By 2010, at the age of 26, Naughton announced that she was focusing on an acting career. Fast forward to 2015, she stars in the show “Power”, currently on its third season after two successful seasons.
In an interview with Vibe, Naughton reminds us that all of her success didn’t come easy. “I’m very fortunate to have had a successful career in the music business and now in TV and film, but nothing comes easy. I stay motivated by having family and friends who constantly encourage me and tell me ‘anything is possible’.” Next she exclaims with full confidence, “So this is only the beginning! One day, I will write a script, direct my first film, release a solo album…it’s all scary but exciting territory to conquer!” Judging from her track record, I believe her! But how do we become all that we can be? How do we reach our fullest potential and remain confident on the way to it?
Step outside of your comfort zone.
I know it’s cliché, but it is absolutely essential for progression. “I love to push myself! Stepping outside of my comfort zone is what will make me a better artist,” said Naughton for the Vibe interview. This is how she reaches new levels of success. But stepping outside of our comfort zone is easier said than done. It’s where we feel comfortable. But why?
The comfort zone is only a reflection of your self-image. You create barriers in your mind of how you should function on an everyday basis. The barriers come from what behavior you think is acceptable and what you think you can and can’t do. Much of this is conditioned in your brain at a young age; it’s a type of social conditioning. When on the brink of leaving our comfort zones, we feel nervous. But this a good feeling. What it means is we are improving ourselves, expanding our comfort zones. The more comfortable, the more that can be achieved. Maybe you’re starting a new job. Maybe you’re learning a new language. Maybe you see an attractive stranger. All of these require is to take a step outside of our comfort zone.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
-Muhammed Ali

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No, You’re Not Crazy! Workplace Bullying Is Real

woman looking upset at work

In the women’s bathroom Melanie splashed cold water on her face and carefully placed eye drops in both of her eyes to hide the crying that she had done in the bathroom stall. She put on her glasses and decided that she would just “blame it on her allergies” if people asked why her eyes were swollen and puffy.

New to the school system, Melanie was just yelled at by her new supervisor, Ms. Robinson, for collaborating with one of her colleagues. Even though Melanie thought it was acceptable to talk to her more seasoned colleagues for advice, Ms. Robinson made it clear that Melanie should only ask her for tips. However, Ms. Robinson always yelled at Melanie and put her down any time she asked a question!

Melanie had years of prior experience as a school counselor with another school system. Ms. Robinson, who is African American, seemed to always treat Melanie, who is also African American, as if she had no prior training or expertise. Ms. Robinson often made negative comments about Melanie’s prior school system by referring to it as “the ghetto school system”.

Ms. Robinson made a point to come to Melanie’s school without warning to conduct impromptu “evaluation and observation sessions”. During one evaluation, Ms. Robinson inappropriately commented on Melanie’s hair by asking if her hairstyle included fake hair (weave).

Melanie felt that she was being treated unfairly because the other counselors did not receive as many evaluation sessions. Other counselor’s evaluation sessions were planned and not impromptu. Furthermore, other counselors typically collaborated with each other by phone, email or in person, not solely with Ms. Robinson. The last straw was when Ms. Robinson gave Melanie a low evaluation score with no reasonable explanation. Melanie felt that Ms. Robinson possibly disliked her because of the reputation of her previous school system and treated her unfairly.

Melanie could not prove that her mistreatment was based on race or gender, because Ms. Robinson was also an African American female. Frustrated, isolated, and unable to gain support in her new school system, Melanie considered resigning due to not being a “good fit”.

Melanie’s situation is not uncommon in the workplace, especially in these current economic times. According to Dr. Ruth Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), “Work Shouldn’t Hurt!” Work should be a place where excellence and productivity are expected. There should be expectations and accountability. However, managers should not create or encourage hostile work environments that cause psychological harm to employees. Research supports that abusive work environments lose productivity because abused employees lose motivation, take sick leave, and ultimately quit due to the abuse.

How does that make any dollars or sense?