The relationship between moving outside of your comfort zone and increasing self-confidence is widely known.
But does one-size-fit-all, and how far must you go to really grow in confidence? A comfort zone is a behavioural state where you feel at ease in your environment and (you perceive that) you’re fully in control, however attempting to live within this safe space is virtually impossible with life’s ebbs and flows. Self-confidence is gained by being good at something whilst recognising that there are still areas requiring improvement. Staying inside the safety of your comfort zone is detrimental as it’s likely you’ll never improve, progress plateaus with minimal risk and reward.
At Kingswood, experiential learning opportunities are endless - allowing participants to take part in air, land and water-based activities - giving everyone the chance to expand their comfort zones in a safe and supported environment. Emphasis is very much on ‘challenge by choice’ and encouraging young people to make their own decisions, based on what feels right for them, with hugely positive outcomes.
We asked Kingswood’s Head of Learning and Impact, Dr John Allan, for his insight into this. “Each person’s comfort zone is different. It’s more important to focus on an ideal level of support to challenge ratio per individual. Not everyone needs to jump off a ‘leap of faith’ plank to go beyond their comfort zone, in fact going too far could do the reverse. A solution-focused approach encourages young people to feel empowered and supported when stretching themselves and taking on challenges. Our end goal is to encourage young people to build expansive comfort zones and self-determination which enables them to feel confident when taking on challenges. We want every participant to feel great about themselves and their achievements.”
Here’s how we encourage confidence-building at Kingswood:
What often holds people back is their frame of mind. Setting the scene before a day of activities has a huge impact on every individual. Before even stepping out onto our adventure grounds, we hold a welcome/warm-up briefing which encourages each person to start their day open to new adventure challenges, and to go into these with a positive mind-set. The sense of ‘we’re in this together, we can do this, and we’re here to support each-other’ is an ongoing theme throughout the day.
We make leaving your comfort zone as rewarding as possible. Big achievements and small steps forward are equally congratulated, encouraged and recognised. Nothing beats the comradery of hearing cheers from your peers as you push yourself that bit further. Celebrating by the campfire, re-counting wins from the day, and toasting marshmallows together in the evening is a rewarding part of the process and really embeds the learning from the day.
It’s not just about pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone that builds confidence. Supporting and encouraging peers can be hugely beneficial; especially if that person is someone outside of a friendship group. Collaborating and feeling that your encouragement played a part in helping others achieve has a positive effect on your own confidence and wellbeing.
We make it easier for schools - who have a particular requirement to evidence progress in character building - with our ‘Confidence Tracker’ tool. This tool supports educators in evidencing the powerful outcomes of a residential Kingswood trip, and how by taking on challenges and risk, individuals grew in confidence. Also helping schools meet Ofsted’s character education framework. Find out more, here