“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
Being a human being presents a number of challenges and interesting situations. One of those is the reality that most people spend their entire lives trying to ‘live comfortably’ and hoping to remove conflict and challenges from their lives, when really the only way we grow as people is by looking to be uncomfortable and challenged.
There are probably lots of reasons for that (fear, laziness, lack of vision, etc.), but that will have to wait for another time. For today, I’m mostly thinking about the results. When we look continually seek the comfortable path we eventually get stagnant.
Our businesses are no different. Too often the answer to every question is “do it like last year”. Too often we’re afraid of trying something new or stopping something old. So we do the things we’re comfortable doing, that make us feel good, that we think we can do without messing up – even if those things are no longer relevant. And so stagnation sets in.
If that’s you, and it’s probably all of us sometimes, here are two things you need to get out of that rut:
Capability. Part of the reason it’s scary to try new things is because we don’t know how to do them. If you want to expand your horizons, open up new opportunities, and put yourself into position to successfully get outside your comfort zone, then you have to seek out new ideas. You have to look for new skills or new information. You won’t come up with many new thoughts if all you have are old ideas.
Performance. Knowing new things or acquiring new skill sets is great, but at some point you actually have to, you know, do something. The world is full of people who have a list of things they could do, but they just never do them. Then they can’t figure out why nothing in their life gets any better. You have to be committed to action, not just learning.
That sounds great, but how do you go about either of those things? I think the answer is people. Who are the people who consistently challenge you with new ideas? Who are the people who consistently do not look at the world the same way you do? Who are the people who are willing to hold you accountable? Who are the people who get you up out of your seat and moving?
When I think about my career, I can specifically name a handful of people who do that. When I’m around those people, I end up learning and doing new things all the time. When I’m not, I find myself slipping into old familiar patterns of comfort and stagnation. I’m guessing you’re the same way.
Make a point to get around and stay around people who challenge you. Don’t gravitate towards comfort – run towards growth.