5 Ways to Keep Your Comfort Zone from Smothering You
“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” ~ Ann Landers
My family and I were on vacation in California, and it was the time of year right before fall when the vacation crowds are gone and the pool is on the edge of being too cold to swim in and enjoy. The water felt great in the mid afternoon, but once the sun went down it started to feel borderline icy. You know that scared feeling and anticipation you get on the edge of a pool when your anticipating the water might be cold enough to take your breathe away and you are about to jump in?
Well, don’t jump in dummy? Right? Easy fix. I agree, except I had an excited 4 year old and 2 year old that had been waiting to go swimming with their Dad all day. This stinks. So, I knew I was going in, and before I could count to “1” my 2 year old was in the pool, it took her breathe away and she started swimming and having a ball. And splash, just like that my 4 year old was in and begging for me. Do you remember your younger days when your comfort zone was big enough to handle a cold pool? I do, vaguely. But, somewhere along the line I only started swimming when it was a perfect 85 degrees. I got so used to the comfort of warm swimming water in AZ, my comfort zone had shrunk in so far that I probably would not even be able to swim, at all, in my old state of New York. It’s just too cold.
A funny thing happens if we aren’t paying attention, just like a frog will not jump out of a pot of hot water as long as the temperature raises gradually, we get stuck in a forever shrinking comfort zone. We all do it, it’s part of being human; to seek the comfortable, to walk the path of least resistance.
It used to be easy to jump in cold water, meet strangers, interview for a new job, run a mile, get involved at great risk to yourself for a leadership role, ask your spouse out, tell your friends they mean the world to you, stand up for yourself or someone else, put yourself out there, take a financial risk, or any risk at all for that matter, and the list goes on.
When did you quit jumping into cold water? What has your shrinking comfort zone stolen from you? Playing with your kids, a chance at a better life, new friends, passion? Whatever it is, it’s probably more than you are willing to admit.
Here are a few things you can do to expand the comfort zone:
- Jump in and quit thinking. We “over think” everything as adults. And often without progress.
- When all is said and done. Be the one who did more than was said. Quit talking about what you will do someday and start being the one who did it, and then talk.
- Do one thing every day that pushes you off the edge. You know when your on the edge. So, everyday jump in once for a few minutes – meet the stranger, take a risk, do the unexpected, ask for the raise.
- Play. You can always find ways to play and have a good time. The older we get, it seems the more intentional we have to be, but you can do it. Have fun with life, even when the environment you’re in doesn’t seem to be “play friendly.”
- Pick up a new hobby. Even if it doesn’t stick, pick it up and look at it anyway. Cooking, art, outdoors, biking, running, games with friends, pogo sticks :), support a cause, volunteer, and you get the idea.
Expanding comfort zones nationally and encouraging you to jump in before you get too comfortable to enjoy life,
Beware of Re-creating your Past
Be careful of going back to what you once were instead of moving forward to what you have yet to become.
Like water, we have this incredible tendency to sub-consciously settle into the groove, the path, of least resistance. The only problem with this is that it only has one result, re-creating the past.
Many leaders have been leading in the same place, same position, same expectations, and same challenges for so long that this groove is created. A groove that steals passion and innovation one small piece at a time. We feel it sneak up on us like the cold at night. Slowly we find ourselves unchallenged and resting in this emotionless zone of the doing what we have always done.
We can wake up and make the change now, realizing that it’s never too late to be who you might have been . Or, we can settle in and wait until we are fired, forced out, or no longer have the passion to be productive. Only to look back, and realize the powerhouse we could have been, the changes we could have made in the world, or the dreams we could have realized for ourselves or our family.
The Cure is in the way you plan and therefore, the way you lead:
- Make decisions based off looking where we have been – Result = Re-create the past
- Make decisions based off of looking at our present circumstances – Result = Re-create the past
- Make decisions based off looking to the future – Result = Forecasting the future
- Move your actions and life into the future and act now, how you want your future to be – Result = Creating and Controlling your Destiny
The choice is ours to make everyday, rely on circumstances and the groove to guide us to the future or decide your own path now and move forward to where you have never yet been.
Beware the gravitational force that is always trying to pull you back to where you already were.
Walking into the wonderful unknown,
The Next Generation
Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992. For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks, and Tony Perkins have always been dead. Each year, Beloit College puts together a list of “cultural touchstones” that affect the lives of students entering college in 2011. The faculty uses it as a reminder to be aware of dated references. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
3. Al Gore has always been animated.
4. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.
5. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.
6. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.
7. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
8. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.
9. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.
10. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.
11. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.
12. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.
13. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.
14. Czechoslovakia has never existed.
15. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.
16. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn’t he?
17. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.
18. Beethoven has always been a good name for a dog.
19. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
20. They’ve always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi (SYFY) Channel.
You can view the complete list at www.beloit.edu/mindset. Are you guilty of being “dated” in your dealings with the younger generation? These folks will soon hit the workforce so be aware of language you may want to change.
Thanks to my friends at Resource Associates Corporation.
Looking to the future,
Re-Inventing yourself…What’s next?
If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential, for the eye which , ever young and ardent, sees the possible.- Soren Kierkegaard
I was hanging out with my 4 year old son the other day and I was impressed with the excitement he finds in all the little things in life like learning a new word, understanding how something works, the adventure of playing in the backyard, and eating a new food. His energy and adventure is contagious. As we get older, and we have lived a full life and tried everything under the sun. We can have the tendency to write off all the things we don’t like and embrace what we do enjoy, this causes the excitement and passion for life and new adventure to fade.
For example, I would love to get my pilot’s license and then fly the country in my own airplane. This is an adventure and it would be an incredible thrill for me. My Dad, on the other hand, has had his pilot’s license – he has been there and done that. The excitement has worn off, so what’s next? Maybe for my Dad it’s time to get some buddies together and build their own plane, time to take a passion and reinvent it. Re-create it with fresh perspective and new skills.
Once you have traveled the world, fought in 2 world wars, lived, loved and know yourself well. What is left? What excitement, challenge, and fervor for life and adventure is there? Maybe it’s time to re-invent yourself?
Is it time for you to get some new energy from an old passion? Is it time to date your spouse again? Renew your vows? Check an item off the bucket list? Build something? Find a new talent? Or maybe the greatest reinvention is to plant seeds off your tree of experience into the life and mind of someone else?
Enjoy this true story:
Anna Mary Moses loved to do needlework. She had been enjoying it since before she was married. But as she began to get older, she started to lose some of the dexterity in her hands through arthritis. By the time she was eighty, she could no longer perform even the simplest stitches. Therefore she decided to try something different—painting. The brushes were easy enough to handle, even with her arthritis, so she took it up full time, mostly painting farm and country scenes.
One day a traveling art collector stopped for a bite to eat in her town and saw her pictures in a drugstore. He decided that he liked them, and in a very short time the name of Grandma Moses was known throughout the art world. Although Grandma Moses didn’t even start painting until she was eighty years old, she was able to create over fifteen hundred works of art in her lifetime. She had an international following, and prominence as a world-class painter.
All this because she was forced to quit her favorite pastime and take up a new one.
Success cannot be measured in time, or what anyone else thinks. It’s personal and powerful when you are reaching your own goals. Never stop learning, dreaming, and re-inventing the wonderful life you have been given. The world is a playground, and there is always something new to explore. Sometimes the greatest exploration is done inside your own mind and life.
Dream it, find it, and live it. After all… this is YOUR one shot at life.
Find Your Passion for Productivity
Tom Landry, the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, once said something that may be true of nearly any motivator: “I have a job to do that is not very complicated, but it is difficult: to get a group of men to do what they don’t want to do so they can achieve the one thing they have wanted all of their lives.”
Did you know that more points are scored in the last 2 minutes of the 4th quarter of a football game then in the other 3 quarters put together? This is often used to prove the point that all of us work better with a deadline. Which is a fact.
However, I think it is more than that. Have you ever felt like you had the time to accomplish something, but you didn’t have the energy? You lacked the physical energy, emotional energy, spiritual energy, mental energy, the motivation?
Energy in life is a resource that is often more valuable than time itself. You see, time is made of not only hours and minutes, but energy. So, whether you are playing football or working in your office you know you have to last a certain period of time mentally, physically, and emotionally.
A runner knows that if they only have to run 100 meters they can run 10 times faster than if they have to run 10 miles. The final 2 minutes of a game represent the last 100 meters. The time when you leave it all on the field. When you quit saving energy and let it all go. When results are all that matters and conserving energy doesn’t.
I have found it easier to be more productive, and turn out better quality work from a team by giving them short deadlines followed by a break. For example, if you are an author, try to write fast and focused for 5 minutes, then stop and break, before coming back for another 5 minute session.
I know a lady friend of mine who consistently runs under a 4 hour marathon by running for 5 minutes and walking for 2 minutes. I have seen this applied to concrete companies and insurance agents alike. If you pay people by the hour, it encourages them to work slower and longer. If you pay people based off productivity, it encourages them to work smarter and faster. Which is an asset to any team or organization.
I am convinced that hourly employees can work half the time and accomplish the same amount of work. Often higher quality work, if they are given a shorter deadline with twice the pay.
Still not convinced? Try this, tell your team one day that they can go home at lunch time and get paid for a full day if they complete the full day’s work by noon. See what happens. I would love to hear how it works out.
Of course, if you are a retail shop, a fast food restaurant, or any place where you have store hours, then sending them home at noon is not an option. But, what if they were rewarded with a break after taking so many orders, ringing up a certain number of customers, folding so many boxes or clothing, then would productivity increase? You bet it would.
It is time for our world to quit thinking hours and start thinking productivity. After all:
“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”– Jim Rohn (American Business Philosopher, Author, and Speaker)
Article by Jon Bohm
If it’s worth doing…It’s worth doing it poorly.
Risk an ugly result and innovate!
This morning I saw an actual balloon pilot aviator’s license from 1906 signed by Orville Wright himself. An icon and amazing man died this past week. He had spent a majority of his life in aviation, dating all the way back to seeing the first planes take flight.
It often blows my mind to think back on what a 100 year old person has experienced. They have seen more than my mind can imagine. They have felt, seen, and touched things that I can only read about.
And they know some things that many people today don’t understand. One of those things, I believe, is the value of first time dreams, innovation, and trying something that often comes out not working very well or risks operating like a bucket of bolts.
So often business owners are gun shy about trying things that we fear may not come out well. But how well has anything that was every worth a shiny penny ever started off brilliant? Innovation doesn’t start that way. It starts in Henry Ford’s garage looking like an old lawnmower, or on an ugly tan piece of plastic that you give away because nobody wants to by a computer with an “apple” on it, or with 2 brothers building a bicycle with some sheets spread out running down the beach in North Carolina.
Business guru Tom Peters tells about a businessman whom he admires whose motto is “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” “The logic is impeccable,” says Peters. He points out that the plane the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk was nothing to write home about. Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone was not exactly up to Bell Lab standards. Yet if Bell hadn’t foisted that piece of junk on the world we wouldn’t have a vast communication network that can instantly link anyone on this planet, and if Orville and Wilbur hadn’t gone for lift-off with that bucket of bolts down at Kitty Hawk, we wouldn’t have 747s.
Peters goes on to say, “I emphasize the point because the number one failing that I see in small and large organizations is the failure to do stuff. . . In an environment where we know nothing for sure, the only antidote is, to quote my old man, ‘Don’t just stand there. Do Something!’”
Taking the time to risk failure and doing something beats using the same old thing or just standing around any day!
One of the advantages of a soft economy can be that you find yourself with some more time. So don’t just stand there- do something- risk an ugly result, and innovate!
– Jon Bohm