Widening the Zone

My wife loves power tools. Our relationship is not typical – while I’m pretty much useless around the house, she is exceedingly handy. In fact, as I write this, she is working on some built-in shelves in our den.

Last Christmas, I bought her a miter saw. She was so excited, she went to the store the next day and bought enough crown molding to frame two walkways in our house, as well as the entire dining room. I had basketball practice and ran a few errands, and when I came home just a few hours later, she had already cut and hung all of the trim. It looked TERRIBLE, and I told her so. (Isn’t honesty the key to any relationship?)

She was annoyed, to be sure, but she knew I was right. Together we took it all down, figured out what happened, and she tried again. It was better. Good? Nope. Better? Absolutely.

Fast forward to now, nearly 15 months later. My wife is an incredible craftswoman. A few weeks ago, while I watched football and ate myself into a coma, she installed new floors in our den, put in new baseboard, and began working on the built-ins that she’s finishing today. She’s AMAZING.

She’s in her comfort zone doing these projects, but it’s not because she’s a naturally talented craftswoman. It’s because she did them when they weren’t comfortable; they were hard and frustrating. That’s the paradox of mastery: to be great, you must be willing to be bad, to be frustrated, and to fail. You must leave your comfort zone.

The good news is, the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the wider it grows.

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