If You Aren’t Stretching, You Aren’t Learning

Mar 6, 2019

“Stability is a shut off switch for your brain.”

This is the central idea of Inc.’s article, “Science Has Just Confirmed That If You're Not Outside Your Comfort Zone, You're Not Learning” written by Jessica Stillman. Her statement is backed by research from Yale University that says brain regions associated with learning basically shut down when we are operating within a predictable pattern. When uncertainty comes into play, our brains snap into learning mode.

“This makes sense,” Stillman writes. “Once you’ve figured out the best way to behave in a given learning environment, learning new techniques or approaches is pointless.” She goes on to say that because stability “kills learning,” we need to avoid what’s easy or familiar in favor of what is unpredictable and difficult. 

Okay. We live in a pretty chaotic world. We’re not sure anyone needs to invite more stress or uncertainty into their daily lives—but sure, we’ll play along here. Let’s explore the idea of strategic instability. That is to say, moments of uncertainty scattered throughout our day or week that make us uncomfortable by design.

Stretching Outside Your Behavioral Comfort Zone
One idea discussed in Everything DiSC® is stretch. We think of stretch as reaching outside of your home base or comfort zone in terms of behaviors and priorities. 

The image on the left illustrates an individual’s DiSC style through a dot placement within the circumplex. The shading around the dot represents priorities, or the primary areas where that person’s energy is focused. This all creates a story around a person’s behavioral comfort zone.

The image on the right is a demonstration of stretch, where a person quite literally stretches across the circumplex and outside their comfort zone in order to more effectively connect with a different DiSC style. Everyone is a blend of all four DiSC styles, and we all have the ability to stretch outside our behavioral comfort zone. It’s important to remember that the further we stretch, the more energy required.

There are lots of different ways to stretch. To keep this post light, we thought it would be fun to present you with one example of stretch for each of the four core DiSC styles:

Of course, the idea of stretch goes much deeper and wider than this. But in skimming the surface, you can see how implementing Everything DiSC gives people the footing they need to reach outside their comfort zones. 

Stretch, Learn, GROW
Beyond the workplace, Stillman offers up the following ideas to incorporate strategic instability:

  • Changing your routine, even something as simple as a coffee order
  • Starting a new project or picking up a new hobby
  • Talking to people you disagree with (this one is where Everything DiSC is super helpful!)

However you decide to implement strategic instability, do so knowing that although you may feel discomfort in the moment, you are in fact doing yourself a favor. We often level up through situations that challenge us, and it’s through these challenges that our continued learning and growing take place. 

Everything DiSC®, with its award-winning Authorized Partner network, is a global leader in delivering personalized, soft skills learning experiences that have an immediate and lasting impact on the performance of people and cultures of organizations.

To discover how Everything DiSC can offer organizations the tools they need to help people stretch outside their behavioral comfort zone, connect with your Everything DiSC Authorized Partner. If you don’t have a partner, we will connect you with one through our online partner locator. Get started here!

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