A Comfort Zone Busting Experience
In these CZ Bust posts, we will share our comfort zone busting experiences – big, small and in between. As you get to know more about us, we hope that you will see how Earth shattering these experiences are – and celebrate our triumphs!
Here’s our first CZ Bust experience, shared by Lora:
Separate from my creative self is my day job persona. It has always been a great yin/yang for me: my livelihood supports my passions and my artist breathes life into my corporate self.
My corporate self was required at an offsite team building event this past week. Not my favorite thing to do, but after 30+ years in the business, I know how to make it work. Or, I should say, I thought I did.
It turned out that it was a little too much of everything: too much food, too many activities, much too much personal sharing, too many people, too much lost sleep – resulting in way too much anxiety for this gal.
We kicked off with a deep dive into personality profiles. As expected, I was the only INFJ – the rarest of the types identified by Myers-Briggs. Wikipedia defines it:
- I – Introversion preferred to extraversion: INFJs tend to be quiet and reserved. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extraverts gain energy).
- N – Intuition preferred to sensing: INFJs tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus on the big picture rather than the details, and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities.
- F – Feeling preferred to thinking: INFJs tend to value personal considerations above objective criteria. When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic.
- J – Judgment preferred to perception: INFJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability. 
And because it’s rare – about 1% of people are INFJ – it’s the least experienced and understood by anyone, especially Corporate America were categories and labels are key. I kinda don’t belong in Corporate America – but that’s another story for another time.
Imagine a single INFJ soul stuffed into a room with 45 other people (most of them strangers) who set off on a wildly interactive 2-day odyssey. I felt isolated in an event meant for bonding. I’m not at the place yet where I can look back and chuckle about any of it – yet I attempt to do exactly that and somehow make all this okay.
The organizers did a fabulous job of trying to balance needs of all. The goals and objectives set out by management were successfully achieved. Yet, it is simply not possible to be all things to all people. Talk about being out of my comfort zone!
Day 1 was more theoretical than personal, and I’d say that I survived it rather well. My anxiety level hovered around the mid-range most of the day and remained manageable. I was actually thinking this would be the worst of it and I’d be okay for the remainder of the event. (Boy, was I ever wrong.) Yet, it was great to see what types the others were, especially those I work with remotely and had never met.
A lovely boat cruise with cocktails and a formal dinner back at the hotel capped off Day 1. Have you ever sat at a single dinner table set for 45 people? It was overwhelming, but still manageable. I got to sit with someone I work with often enough to want to know better. Balance restored. Found her to be a lovely woman with whom I have much in common. If I am asked back to her city again, she’s someone I’d like to invite out for lunch.
Later in the evening, the large community splintered off into clusters, none of which I had any energy or desire left to join. Unfortunately, the next morning I heard about the mistake I made from a few of my remote city peers – “where were you?” – “we were supposed to have a drink together!” etc., etc. I had no satisfying answer, as demonstrated by some of the parting comments at the close of the event. I guess you just can’t please everyone.
Day 2 – Full on survival mode began just after breakfast and I’m still recovering from the jitters more than 72 hours later. The first “sharing” exercise included telling a group of 6 about your childhood. I pretended that it was all okay, but it wasn’t – not by a long shot. Not yet recovered, I hustled off to another sharing exercise about “values” with a larger group of peers.
Now fully “naked and afraid,” I found myself wondering why survivalists would ever want to do that TV challenge without any clothes.
Did we have any kind of soft/healing type of activity to follow the strip show? No. Maybe I missed it.
After lunch we enjoyed a 2-hour hyperactive frenzy called “team building exercise” that I’ll call “sensory overload.” In small groups we assembled toys for kids, with a twist – trivia challenges to earn parts, then acting in a 30-second commercial competition in front of the charity before presenting the toys to kids.
It was around then that walls caved and oxygen evaporated. Was I the only one who could not breathe? Who turned off the A/C?
Soon after we jumped into yet another social event to say farewell to our host and the local team members who did not have flights to catch the next day like my home group did. Escape is near! Just minutes left!
Only, our host stayed behind instead of traveling back to town. Ack!
My balance restore time suddenly vanished! A small intimate group of about two dozen enjoyed dinner together. Yes, I’m very grateful for the offer. It’s not often that high management includes the underlings at things. However, in that moment, I just wanted my calm quiet evening alone. Thrust into more Corporate posturing and still feeling bad for not hanging later the night before, I was now determined to stick through to the end, if nothing more than to prove to myself that I could. Clearly not the brightest idea I’ve had lately.
The moral of this story is that Comfort Zone Busting is sometimes unexpected, unwanted and unwelcome. Another moral is letting oneself just walk away, no matter the consequences (real or perceived).
Knowing how to recover successfully offers the key to having courage to CZ Bust intentionally toward other, more positive, goals. Otherwise, why do anything?
The best I can say about Day 2, is that I survived it, barely. Completely drained, exhausted, exposed and hungover, the trip home was nothing more than a blur.
Home again and safe again, I struggle to find and restore balance.
Soft soothing music plays in the background as I go about my day.
My dogs are helping me get back. Their prescription: long walk, playtime, eat, nap. Repeat.
I worked a while this morning tending the garden and doing some laundry. Mundane chores tend to help to restore order, both literally and figuratively.
Writing this blog post has helped a bit, regardless if it ever enters cyberspace.
Still, my snarky, sarcastic inner artist is quiet and sleepy. I will let her rest until another day.
My dogs beckon again for a walk, so off we go to enjoy the summer sunshine.
Balance soon will be restored!