The Comfort Zone Shake-Up and The Little Prince

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It’s late at night, and the jet lag coming back from Korea keeps me awake. Under normal conditions I would be quite agitated. It’s Sunday night and tomorrow begins a busy work week. Another week of flights, time zones, meetings, and conferences. But the Little Prince has come to see me and has turned a sleepless night into these lines that I try to capture hastily before sleep decides to come out of hiding.

You understood correctly, the Little Prince. The very famous novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, published for the first time in 1943, voted in France as the best book of the twentieth century, and known today all over the world. It was he, “that extraordinary person” who got me out of bed to start combing the bookshop looking for his book, one of my favorites: The Little Prince.

Some books have special meaning. Maybe because we read them for the first time at the right time, maybe because any time would have been the right one, maybe because we will never tire of rereading them, or because we simply need to re-read them from time to time. Because they are our stories, those in which we believe, those that are part of us.

The Little Prince is one of these books for me. There are many reasons for this, and I had one in particular this night. I found the book and started reading. Now I know what it was. I had the “Drawing number one” and the “Drawing number two” of the first chapter in mind.

The Little Prince came to show me how to tell you about what the Comfort Zone Shake-Up is based on. I have already done it myself with my own words, but I am always looking to find new ways to get the message across.

“I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My Drawing Number One. It looked something like this:”

“I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.

But they answered: “Frighten? Why should anyone be frightened by a hat?”

“My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a drawing of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant… I drew the inside of a boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. “

“That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter.”

As far as I’m concerned, I do not have a career as a painter in front of me. I’ve never been good with a pencil unless it was for a technical design. So today I asked my friend Melinda to help me with my Drawing Number One.

Drawing Number One

I showed this drawing around, asking: “Does it scare you?”

“Scare?” people asked. “Why should one be scared of a star?”

My drawing is not of a star. It is the design of ourselves, of our ability to expand our various personal zones of comfort and of our tireless search for a happy and fulfilling life.

To make you see clearly, I have asked Melinda to draw the inside of this magical form that we call change.

Drawing Number Two

The change starts with ourselves. It passes through our ability to expand our various Comfort Zones every day and guides us in our relentless pursuit of a happy and fulfilling life. But I believe that the Little Prince and Melinda’s drawing have explained it better than many words can.

“Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so, if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say:

‘That is a hat.’

Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or starts. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.”

“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”


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