Paddling out, the water was dark, the air was cool and I could see people in the far distance dotting the horizon. The water under my board flowed quickly, forming eddies and the current pushed me quickly across to an area I didn’t want to be in close to, the harbour wall. As the wall loomed closer, I paddled hard to move away to get out to deeper water.
My body started to fill with adrenaline, my arms heavy, having to focus with the current moving quicker than I could paddle. Knowing I had to get out of this, I concentrated on paddling across and not into the current, eventually making my way out of the turbulent body of water, into the calm. The waves were big that day, one of the biggest swells of the year. As these waves pushed forward and rose out from the sea the nervous hoots and shouting could be heard from the crowd, each set increasing in size. I took a few waves, jostling with the pack of surfers but I held back on a larger set that loomed from nowhere, a guy I recognised instantly turned and paddled, the difference in that moment was that you could see the commitment and focus in his eyes.
Fear is such a strange emotion; how often do we push ourselves to the edge of our comfort zone? It’s almost an invisible boundary we set ourselves from past experiences. It’s also impossible to measure and totally unique to the individual. The evolutionary reasons are clear, to protect ourselves and people close to us.
In 2018, my twin brother and I started a new business with a sustainable packaging product we had no idea would work or be adopted by anyone. We both intrepidly crossed that boundary into no man’s land where those feelings of fear started to kick in. Once again, with focus and determination, we started to explore this new space; we met people and businesses who could help us along the way. We formed a team of people who all had the same drive and passion for change (one of whom rowed across two oceans) and now Flexi-Hex products are now being sold globally with over two million sleeves sold to date. I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t crossed that boundary?
When I got out from that session, I felt deflated knowing that I had the experience and tools to cope with the challenges of that swell, yet I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone. Taking what I had learnt from that situation, I tried again the next day, I pushed a few more boundaries and was rewarded with a totally different experience.
When we do push ourselves out of our comfort zone into no man’s land, it can feel incredible, disorienting and evoke feelings of fear and panic. Yet, when you sit with it and accept you are there, you have this strange feeling of possibilities and opportunities suddenly arising. When the boundaries are gone, then anything can be possible. For some people this boundary might be just going to the shop and having to see and deal with people or it could be as much as rowing an ocean. The most important thing is that we learn how to push ourselves to our individual needs, and the rewards can be life changing.