Brian Grazer

"The discomfort, the uncertainty, the physical and mental challenge that I get from this -- all the things that too many of us spend our time and energy trying to avoid -- they are precisely the things that keep me in the game." ~ Brian Grazer

I just listened to an essay Brian Grazer contributed to the NPR series, This I Believe (a revival of the Edward R. Murrow series of the same name). Brian Grazer produces feature films and television shows. Some years back, he and director Ron Howard, started Imagine Entertainment. His essay for NPR, titled Disrupting My Comfort Zone, speaks of how he is always striving to break out or disrupt his comfort zone. That's how or why he has grown and evolved.

That's his driving philosophy of life.

Disrupting the comfort zone. Pursuing his discomfort zone.

In large portions of my life, I behave in the exact opposite manner to Grazer. In fact, I'm always IN a discomfort zone and rarely have to seek it. Well, not entirely, but I do seem to have the opposite instinct. Is that common? Brian's approach may be more plausible or successful in this relatively safe environment. In other contexts, mine is the way to go.


In terms of evolution and growth, disrupting your comfort zone, taking risks, pursuing what's new instead of what's known--that is the only way to evolve. As Grazer para-phased from his conversation with a biologist:

If you're not growing, you're dying.

As always, the trick is to find the balance. If the risks you take are too extreme, you end up dead. No chance to grow and evolve there. But the same is true if you play it too safe. You might as well be dead because you're not growing, evolving.

Disrupting My Comfort Zone by Brian Grazer

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Disrupting My Comfort Zone by Brian Grazer

I was 45 years-old when I decided to learn how to surf.

Picture this scene: The north shore of Oahu -- the toughest, most competitive surfing spot on the planet. Fourteen-foot swells. Twenty tattooed locals. And me, 5-foot-8-inches of abject terror. What will get me first, I wondered, the next big wave or the guy to my right with the tattoo on his chest that reads "RIP"?

They say that life is tough enough. But I guess I like to make things difficult on myself, because I do that all the time. Every day and on purpose. That's because I believe in disrupting my comfort zone.

When I first started out in the entertainment business, I made a list of people I thought it would be good to meet. Not people who could give me a job or a deal, but people who could shake me up, teach me something, challenge my ideas about myself and the world. So I started calling up experts in all kinds of fields: trial lawyers, neurosurgeons, CIA agents, embryologists, firewalkers, police chiefs, hypnotists, forensic anthropologists and even presidents.

Some of them -- like Carlos Castaneda, Jonas Salk and Fidel Castro -- were world-famous. Of course, I didn't know any of these people and none of them knew me. So when I called these people up to ask for a meeting, the response wasn't always friendly. And even when they agreed to give me some of their time, the results weren't always what one might describe as pleasant.

Take, for example, Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb. You've heard of him? However, he'd never heard of me. It took me a year of begging, cajoling and more begging to get to him to agree to meet with me. And then what happened? He ridiculed me and insulted me. But that was okay. I was hoping to learn something from him -- and I did, even if it was only that I'm not that interesting to a physicist with no taste for our pop culture.

Over the last 30 years, I've produced more than 50 movies and 20 television series. I'm successful and, in my business, pretty well known. I'm a guy who could retire to the golf course tomorrow where the worst that could happen is that my Bloody Mary is watered-down.

So why do I continue to subject myself to this sort of thing? The answer is simple: Disrupting my comfort zone, bombarding myself with challenging people and situations -- this is the best way I know to keep growing. And to paraphrase a biologist I once met, if you're not growing, you're dying.

So maybe I'm not the best surfer on the north shore, but that's okay. The discomfort, the uncertainty, the physical and mental challenge that I get from this -- all the things that too many of us spend our time and energy trying to avoid -- they are precisely the things that keep me in the game.

Also see ThereIsNoGodByPennJillette.

Charlie Rose with Brian Grazer
The Directors - Ron Howard

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