As business coaches we speak with hundreds of business owners about strategies to grow their businesses and hear comments such as:
• “I’ve owned this business for 20 years and know everything there is to know about running the business”. Oh, really? Afraid to think of new ideas?
• “Once the economy turns my business will take off”. Why aren’t you proactively seeking solutions instead of waiting for the economy to turn?
• “There aren’t good people available to hire”. What better time than now to hire quality people; you just don’t know how to look for them.
Why Do We Stay Within the Box? These owners are comfortable within the confines of their box (their comfort zone) and make little effort to expand the dimensions of that box. Their thinking doesn’t change. Yet, failure to think differently by adhering to what has worked in the past doesn’t bode well for business owners in a changing world.
Our experience working with business owners has led us to the conclusion that most don’t like to stretch their comfort zone for two primary reasons:
• Fear (False Expectations Appearing Real)– afraid to try something new for fear of failure
• They don’t understand the importance of breaking out of their box
It’s natural for humans to be afraid of failing when considering new ideas and so most people stay within their comfort zone. There will be times when we don’t succeed in new endeavors, but the learnings from those failures put us ahead of those who didn’t try because of fear. How many times did all of us fail when we first tried walking, or learning to ride a bicycle? Did we let that deter us from succeeding? We picked ourselves up and tried again and again until we succeeded. Each failure got us one step closer to succeeding. The older we get we lose sight of these important lessons…to grow requires taking risks.
Why Is It Important to Push Our Comfort Zone? “We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.” — Thomas Edison
Like a tree, if we are not growing, it’s because we are dying. Champions know that staying within their box prevents them from achieving their potential and ordains them to a life of ordinary.
Rafael Nadal was undisputedly the best tennis player in the world on clay courts (many consider him the greatest clay court player ever), yet when it came to playing on the faster courts of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, he wasn’t the best. To become the #1 player in the world and to become one of the greatest tennis players ever, he needed to expand his serving and volleying skills. Step-up he did and as a result he has been in the Wimbledon finals the past 6 years, winning two, and the U. S. Open finals the past two years. Had he stayed in his comfort zone of the slower clay courts he never would have become one of the greatest players of all time.
Are you comfortable where you are and safely ensconced within the familiar confines of your comfort zone? Or, are you anxious to expand that zone so that you can achieve your potential. Far too many Americans are happy in their box, and as a result we as a society don’t achieve our potential. Most people want what they have, i.e. status quo, instead of achieving their potential.
How do I Break Out of My Comfort Zone?
Here are a couple suggestions on ways/strategies to break out of your comfort zone…to begin achieving your true potential.
1. FEAR: Overcome it. Recognize that 99% of the world’s population is living within their comfort zone so it’s only natural for them to advise you against taking chances…trying something new. Recognize that to move ahead you have to push your comfort zone and then just “Do It”. Stop listening to people that tell you not to do something.
2. EDUCATION: Change your paradigm by reading about what other people have done. Set a goal of reading at least one business or motivational book each month. Reading and listening to educational CDs expands your perception.
3. SMALL STEPS: Start by taking small steps. Small steps taken consistently add up to great success over time. Each time you stretch a spring beyond its tolerance it doesn’t return to its original position but rather a spot that’s slightly longer than original. Each small step you take is stretching your spring and in so doing is stretching your comfort zone.
4. NETWORKING: Talk with successful people to learn how they achieved their success. What worked for them? What didn’t work? How can you apply what they learned to your business and you personally?
In his book “How Successful People Think” John Maxwell suggests that you regularly ask yourself,
“Am I working to break out of my ‘box’ of limitations so that I explore ideas and options to experience creative breakthroughs?”
How big is the box you are living in? How are you going to expand the dimensions of your box (comfort zone)? If you want to become a successful business owner or leader, you need to continually expand your comfort zone. The Japanese call it “keizen” – “constant, never ending improvement.”