‘Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.’ – Brendan Bolton, Former Coach-Carlton Football Club

In order to learn, we need to step outside our comfort zones and become comfortable with being uncomfortable. When we push ourselves outside our comfort zones, we grow and learn more about ourselves as people and, in my case, as a leader.

Besides the obvious health benefits and the other connections to improved learning, this growth is the reason behind my insatiable thirst for participating in ridiculously challenging events such as the Ultra Trail Australia 50km ultramarathon, the Surf Coast 50km ultramarathon and Run Larapinta, a four-day stage stage race covering 85km in the Macdonnell Ranges outside of Alice Springs. These runs have all helped me to strengthen my mental toughness and develop ways to overcome the uncomfortable parts of leading (and life).

In schools, we want our students to want to be in the learning pit, which means a temporary departure from their comfort zone. If we want our students to leave the safety of this zone then we, as teachers and leaders, need to feel and model this ourselves. Firstly, school leaders need to create the conditions for their staff to enter the learning zone (without tipping over into the panic zone), and teachers must create the conditions in their classrooms where students can ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable’ in the learning zone.

This year, I have signed up to something WAY outside my comfort zone…I am currently training for a 100km run through the Blue Mountains. Now that is a goal that scares the pants off me! (Actually, I’m pretty close to the panic zone on this one).

I LOVE being in the learning zone and working my way through challenges. Here are some of the physical challenges that have helped shaped who I am today:

Run Larapinta (2018)

85km on the Larapinta Trail, NT

Thanks to Matt Hull (from the Matt Images) for these photos.

Ultratrail Australia UTA50 (2017, 2018)

50km in the Blue Mountains, NSW