Last week we focused on risk taking as the fundamental way to move outside of our Comfort Zone so we can learn and develop our potential. We considered people who inspire us by choosing to move outside of their Comfort Zone. We also thought about things outside of our Comfort Zone that we want to have and/or experience. Then why are we reluctant to go there? What are the roadblocks?

The answer is between our ears. The human brain has two primary modes: survive and thrive.

Survive mode looks for threat or anything negative or dangerous to our physical or emotional survival.

Thrive mode looks for opportunities to grow, discover, explore, create, and reach our full potential.

Although both modes are terribly important, the survive mode is more important. After all, if we don’t survive, we can’t thrive.

The emotion that drives the survive mode of our brain is fear aa well as fear’s relatives: worry, anxiety, disappointment, and doubt. Although fear can manifest itself in numerous ways, a powerful way fear shows up in our lives is by allowing ourselves to see Other Peoples’ Opinions (OPOs) as a threat. Remember that an opinion is merely a thought in someone’s brain. Yet, we can allow that thought to prevent us from moving outside of our Comfort Zone and thriving.

It might be helpful to consider two forms of OPOs…those that are in our best interest and those that are not in our best interest. If a friend expresses concern about our smoking, that’s an opinion that is in our best interest and one we should listen to. But those opinions that are not in our best interest should be quickly dismissed.

Imagine the Wright brothers hanging out at a Kitty Hawk bar on the evening of December 16, 2003. They invite the locals to come out the next day and watch them fly an airplane for the first time. It’s likely those in the bar would have said something like, “You guys are crazy. Birds fly. Humans walk or ride horses. You’re going to go down in history as the Wrong brothers, not the Wright brothers.” Had Orville and Wilbur been governed by those opinions, they would have scrapped their ‘ridiculous’ plan and gone back to making bicycles in Dayton, Ohio. If such a scenario had taken place, it would still take us days to travel cross-country.

When Tom’s son Brendan was a freshman in high school, he announced to his father that he was going to try out for the varsity golf team. As a concerned father, Tom quickly advised him that his game was not ready for the varsity team and that he should wait until the following  year. Recognizing that his father’s advice was an OPO, he thanked his father for the opinion. Then, deciding that the opinion was not in his best interest, he asked his father for a ride to tryouts where he made the varsity team and is now a golf professional. Fortunately, Brendan followed the principle:

Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business

unless they are in my best interest.

A reason why OPOs that are not in our best interest may hold us back from stepping outside of our Comfort Zone is our fear of not pleasing other people. We need to question and challenge our decision to please other people whenever it is not in our best interest or anyone else’s best interest. We need to recognize those times in our lives when we use our Comfort Zone as a place to hide. In those moments our well-being and growth are at stake.


  1. What OPOs have others shared with me that have been in my best interest?
  2. What OPOs have I allowed to cause fear in me and prevent me from moving outside of my Comfort Zone?
  3. How does pleasing other people impact my decisions to move outside of my Comfort Zone? How do I use my Comfort Zone as a place to hide?

Best wishes from our Top 20 team…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody…as we encourage each other to sail and fly.

Paul Bernabei
Top 20 Training