You’re excited about your new job. You want to make an impact. You hit the ground running.
Over time, you build new relationships, deliver good results, and make a name for yourself.
A few weeks pass.
Weeks become months.
Months become years.
You grow comfortable.
If you see yourself or a colleague falling into the comfort zone, perhaps it’s time to do what all true achievers do:
Proactively Chose to Move Out of Their Comfort Zone & Break the Cycle
Why would you possibly do this? After all, it can be risky, takes work, and you might mess up.
Well, here are 3 reasons to give it a try…
1. Deliver New Results.
Achieving better results, requires a change in human behavior. In other words, it you want to achieve something new, you better step out of your comfort zone and start doing some new things. This isn’t a wildly new concept, but it is often forgotten.
Remember what Albert Einstein said..
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
2. Keep Work Interesting
Most organizations are looking for marathon runners. These people are great long-term contributors who remain loyal to the organization for years. The problem with marathons is they can become boring. They are monotonous.
Most true achievers struggle with monotony.
To be effective, true achievers embrace the practice of both marathoners and sprinters. Yes, they are committed for the long-term, but they remain interested by running multiple sprints along the way. They take on new projects, tackle new challenges, and strive to move a key metric every quarter.
3. Maintain Brain Plasticity
Our brains have the ability to change physically, chemically, and functionally – but, you have to use it or lose it. Children can quickly learn new things; however, as we age we often lose much of this ability. It’s much easier to learn a new language at 3 years old than when you are 50. It’s not impossible at 50, but it’s arguably much harder.
Sometimes, you need to break the cycle.
If you haven’t heard of him, let me introduce you to Destin Sandlin. He’s a rocket engineer and creator of the Smarter Every Day video series.
My colleague, Josh Chase, introduced me to Destin’s work.
One of his videos teaches all about brain plasticity in which he truly breaks the cycle.
In his situation, he breaks a bicycle!
Watch this video. The Backwards Brain Bicycle (approximately 7 minutes) truly changed the way I think about my brain.
I wish you all the best as you proactively chose to step out of your comfort zone and break the cycle!
In today’s world, it can be easy to be only partially present, somewhat engaged, or hedging our bets. I’ll go a step further and say that we are encouraged and rewarded for this type of behavior.
We are provided countless opportunities to:
Put our resumes online and have them seeking new employment for us even as we sit in a meeting at our current workplace.
Get a side hustle going to make a little money beyond our normal income to give us more options.
Carry a device with us that we can use to escape the moment and thousands of apps to help us do it.
Flip through television channels, Netflix shows, radio stations, and streaming service playlists looking for something a bit better to entertain us.
At some point, all this hustling, hedging, escaping, and flipping can cause us to miss out on something interesting, something that could make all the difference, change the game, or bend our trajectory. These options create limitless opportunities, but may also limit us from going all in.
For many of us, being risk adverse or looking to avoid failure (even small failures) adds to the dilemma. Assuming we might fail at one thing, we may do a mediocre job at many things. So, we reduce risk of failure by choosing to not go all in.
As we age, I contend that our desire for comfort and control may even conspire against our willingness to take risk. Consider the last time you saw families at a swimming pool. Odds are that the kids were swimming and the adults were watching from the side. Kids are typically all in.
Allow Me to Share a Story
Last summer, I was in Denmark visiting with friends and family. We were staying in a small coastal town in the northern part of the country. Throughout the town, store windows were peppered with signs announcing that the annual visit from a troupe of traveling performers. The signs were not limited to our quaint village. Each adjacent town had signs announcing when the show was coming to the respective community.
We were intrigued. Having never been to a traveling Danish show before, we inquired about going and a group of us, Danes and Americans, decided to take in the performance.
Allow me to put Denmark into perspective.
It’s a fairly small country with a population and geographic footprint comparable to North Carolina. Visitors are typically greeted with waving Danish flags. Quality and design matter. Danish homes have a cozy feeling (they call it Hygge – pronounced hue-guh).
In short, Danes do things a certain way – the Danish way.
Although interested in seeing the show, my expectations were muted, but the troupe was surprisingly impressive. Everyday, the show would travel from town to town. It had done so for generations. Employing few people, everyone needed to perform, sell concessions, drive a truck, and erect the tent. It was an all hands on deck type experience.
The night of the performance, I walked into the arena and assumed a seat in the middle of the long row. I told my wife, “If I sit on the aisle, there’s a chance someone will grab me and make me participate in some way. So, I’m burying myself in the middle.”
True, there were a few hundred people in the room, but I was convinced that I would be targeted for attention as one of a few non-locals in the place. I was not going to allow myself to be pulled into the performance.
Within minutes, a performer entered the arena and began interacting with the crowd. Sporting a large hat he asked patrons to throw the hat from their seat in an attempt to land it on his head.
Like a magnet, he came to me. He extended his arm and handed me the hat. I threw it and missed. He made a face, the crowd laughed, and he moved on. Not too bad I thought – I was safe.
Not so quick – he returned 20 minutes later. This time, he invited me to come onto the stage. I hesitated, even protested a bit. My mind was racing with questions:
Why would I possible give up the comfort of my current position?
There is a good likelihood that he is going to ask me to do something uncomfortable, what good could come from that?
If this doesn’t go well, it could be embarrassing. Who wants to face ridicule?
With the crowd’s encouragement, I found myself moving toward the stage.
Another audience member was invited to join me on stage. In everything we were asked to do, she was praised for her excellent performance and I was found to be less than stellar. The cast member poked fun at me and the audience laughed.
At some point, I flipped a switch in mind. I went from an I’m Going to Fight This Thing mindset to an I’m Going All In mentality.
Here are some benefits I gained from throwing the switch and going all in:
Being all in made the experience richer. I was an active part in creating something. Sure, the crowd was laughing, but I was having fun too.
The memories run so much deeper because I was all in. Instead of having a scant remembrance of the night, I can conjure up the entire evening in my mind.
True, moving out of the shadows and going all in didn’t directly change my life (the troupe failed to ask me to join their tour), but it reminded me that taking a risk and going all in isn’t as bad as we envision it will be.
Don’t believe that I was all in at the Danish show?
Watch this video. I was blindfolded and told to limbo under a pole they were holding for me. The music started and they walked away. I limboed my way across the arena. To make matters worse, I really thought I was doing a good job 🙂
What About You?
Consider these questions about your current situation:
What is holding you back from going all in on a job, product, relationship, opportunity, or something else that might make all the difference in your life?
What do you risk by going all in? What might you gain?
What could you do today to put things in motion?
Is there anyone around you who is sitting on the sidelines that would benefit from going all in? What can you do to help?
Sometimes when things are going well, we find ourselves not appreciating the moment, but yearning for more. Or, we are anxious about what is around the next corner.
Experience has taught us that, for the most part, we are either moving forward or sliding backward. A business is either evolving or unraveling. A plant grows and dies, but doesn’t remain static. Occasionally we must hit pause and appreciate wherever we are on the journey and thank those who choose to travel with us.
Occasionally we must hit pause and appreciate wherever we are on the journey and thank those who choose to travel with us.