"It is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." — Ernest Shackleton

In a story from Greek mythology, master craftsman Daedalus and his son, Icarus, are being held captive on the island of Crete. To escape, Daedalus makes them both a set of wings made of feathers and wax. Before taking off,  Daedalus warns Icarus to avoid flying too low, so that the seawater doesn't ruin his wings, and avoid flying too high, so the sun's heat doesn’t melt the wax.

Icarus famously ignores Daedalus’s instructions and flies so high that the wax in his wings begins to melt, causing him to fall into the sea and drown. This is the source of the idiom “Don't fly too close to the sun.”

Seth Godin, author of the The Icarus Deception makes a strong case for how Daedalus’s instructions to avoid flying too close to the sun (hubris) is the lesson from the myth that has been popularized over the ages and that this happened at the expense of the companion advice of not flying too low (complacency).

In today’s terms we might call this idea of flying too low “staying in our comfort zone” —a desire to avoid danger and feel safe.

In reality, there is also a layer nestled perfectly between our comfort and danger zones: the growth zone. 

comfort zone to growth zone

The Comfort Zone is stress-free and comes with a relatively low risk-to-reward ratio. While you may not be challenged or grow in this zone, it offers you space to feel grounded and make sense of things.

The Growth Zone is just outside your comfort zone. It brings some challenges and stress. These require heightened attention, but they are nothing your best self can’t handle.

The Danger Zone is beyond your growth zone. Here learning is minimal because the gap between your ability and the challenge is just too wide. At best, this zone is discouraging. At worst, it’s a true threat to your safety

Each new experience in the growth zone makes your comfort zone a little bit bigger.

According to Godin, many of us have “built our comfort zone around being obedient and invisible, and as a result, we’re far too close to the waves.”

In your life right now, what would it look like to step into growth? (Journal your response in Reflection.app → )

Mike Radparvar

Co-Founder, Holstee & Reflection.app

P.S. Dive deeper into this concept, along with many other approaches to the theme of Adventure in this month’s  Digital Adventure Guide PDF for Members!

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Adventure.

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