Some people may think of the color green when they think of the color of their comfort zone. You won’t get any arguments from me there. Money definitely provides us comforts in life that we otherwise may not have without it. Although money does not solely define our success, it obviously helps. In order to get to that zone of comfort that money can provide, there are other comfort zones that many of us must break through; particularly in the African American and Hispanic communities. These are the Black and Brown comfort Zones.

The exposure to different races, cultures and perspectives just makes us more well rounded, more open minded and and even more relevant in a world that is becoming more diverse everyday. Exposure to diverse cultures and races also places you in social circles and consideration sets you may otherwise miss out on simply because you don’t know the right people. We have all heard the phrase “The Good Ol’ Boy Network”. That seemingly secret society of rich white males that only provide opportunities and share the wealth with other rich white males. I won’t be so naive as to think that doesn’t still exist in some circles, however, that can no longer be used as a crutch or an excuse for lack of advancement or missed opportunities.

Most people tend to look out for their friends when the time comes for them to fill a position, make a recommendation or support a cause. That’s not exclusive to “The Good Ol’ Boys”, we all do it to some degree. It’s important to recognize that every time this is done, and the opportunities are not provided to minorities, it isn’t always due to discrimination. It could simply be that you just aren’t in the social circle or network of the person in the decision making position so you aren’t even in the consideration set. I understand that it’s natural to gravitate to people who look like you, act like you, talk like you and think like you. I have seen it time and time again at different functions, conferences and events where there’s only a handful of Black or Hispanic people and they are all hanging out together. I get it, that’s your comfort zone. In order to increase your options and open your self up to more opportunities, your comfort zone needs to be color blind. You have to step outside of your comfort zone and also network with people outside of your race that can enhance your career growth. Diversify your network and you will diversify your opportunities.

3 Things you should start doing now:

  1. Stop defining interests, behaviors and careers as “Black people stuff” or “White people stuff”. This places a false limit on your abilities and your possibilities.
  2. Start building an on and offline network based on common professional interests and not based on cultural and racial familiarity. Push yourself to reach out to people that meet that criteria and introduce yourself.
  3. Stop feeling pressured to fit into the culture or lifestyle of another ethnic group or race. Identify the common interests that exist between you and embrace and celebrate the unique value that each of you bring to the relationship.

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” John Maxwell

“We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.” Thomas Edison