By Andy Bailey
Feel like you’re stuck spinning your wheels? It could be your comfort zone.
That’s right — being comfortable can sometimes have a negative impact. If this seems like surprising news, consider this scenario: Have you ever found yourself in need of a solution to a problem or the ability to adapt to a tough situation, and end up relying on tried-and-true methods that go nowhere? That’s the comfort zone kicking in, and if you’re a leader, it can be quite the temptation to lean back on a comfortable workaround, even when you really need a riskier maneuver.
So what’s the solution? To adopt a leaner, hungrier and more creative approach at work, we need to make real strides to grow in our personal and professional lives, while being thoughtful about how those efforts will produce the desired results.
Here are five reasons to get uncomfortable and how to use the benefits to your advantage:
- Risks can help achieve success.As a business leader, you’re familiar with risks, and while uncalculated risks can be detrimental, you may know that smart, calculated risks can actually help you become a better leader. Whether it involves a difficult business decision, or something smaller, like planning your next trip, make sure to practice risk-taking in everyday life. Best case scenario? Those risks pay off in your favor. Worst case? You’ve learned a little something about the path less traveled.
- Competition is healthy.If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a competitive spirit. Lucky for you, this is also a great business motivator. Being comfortable can wipe away that drive or motivation, so get competitive enough to set goals and complete them (but not so competitive as to talk trash to teammates—save that for the court). Even if it’s something as casual as a challenge at work, make it competitive for those involved to stir up passions and inspire hard work.
- You should know your limits.This is crucial. If you don’t know your limits, then you won’t know how uncomfortable is too uncomfortable. Likewise, you won’t know when a certain method has become stagnant or ineffective. Breaking out of the comfortability rut will help you identify your real limits and not fall back on the ones that are self-imposed.
- You should recognize your bad habits. It’s a simple truth said best by Einstein: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In your professional and personal life, make sure to keep things fresh and switched up. Ask yourself why you’re doing things the way you’ve been doing – could they be done better? Don’t become repetitive because it’s easy. If you do, you’ll find yourself circling the same inefficiencies time and time again.
- Learning never ends. By staying in your comfort zone, you’re intentionally closing yourself off from learning opportunities that can help further your company and career. Pick up lessons from coworkers, friends, coaches or even family. Every new teaching moment is uncomfortable at first, but the value of having learned it is immeasurable.
The lesson here is to shake off that layer of cozy that may keep you calm but rarely helps you thrive. For leaders, there’s a difference between a relaxed or easy-going personality and excess comfortableness. Simply do a self-check every now and then, and make sure that you’re developing and expanding your horizons. Who knows? You may just get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Andy Bailey is lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm Petra and serves in an advisory role on the Gazelles Council, the leaders of the Scale Up movement. Visit his blog at www.petracoach.com for more business and leadership insight.