Saturday, September 13, 2008

Comfort Zone or Danger Zone - Paul Huff

Our comfort zone is the living, working and social environments that we have grown accustom to. It determines the type of people we associate with, the lifestyle we accept or reject, our goals and aspirations, our performance level and the very quality of life we have. It's called our "comfort zone" because it's where we experience minimal discomfort. It's a place where we feel a sense of security and certainty. It's a nice, pleasant, cozy little hideaway we've made for ourselves. It's also a dangerous place to be.

Individuals and organizations are generally found in one of those following three comfort zone categories:

1) They are in their comfort zone and want to stay there. Individuals and organizations that find themselves in this category are basically in No-Man's Land. They have accepted the status quo as their destiny; therefore, no progress can be made.

2) They were suddenly thrust from our comfort zone and want back in. Organizational change has forced many people out of their comfort zone. They want to know when the changes will stop so they can get back to what is comfortable, what is safe. But there is no safety there. In fact, the bigger danger lies there.

3) They are dissatisfied with current conditions and want to move to another comfort zone. Dissatisfaction is a prerequisite to improvement. In order to grow and change, we must first be unhappy with our current state. To change our life style, establish a business, or succeed at a challenging project, we must realize that all meaningful and lasting changes come as a result of discomfort.

Over the course of our lives, we have learned to associate "comfortable" with good and "discomfort" with bad. Yet, all human progress is born out of discomfort. Every invention, from the telephone to the trash compactor, has been fueled by our dissatisfaction with existing alternatives. Organizations go from good to great because somebody decides that "good: is not good enough.

Likewise, individuals can only improve the quality of their relationships, health, finances and career when they are dissatisfied with their current situation. That's why our comfort zone is really our danger zone. Progress cannot be made and results cannot be improved upon from a position of comfort. Things get better when we become uncomfortable.

We must be willing to give up the life we have in order to create a better one. We must be willing to give up the certainty of what is in order to create the possibility of what might be. Certainly, when we date to tread outside our comfort zone, we may lose temporary footing. But not to dare means losing the person we could become, the life we could create, the expanded role we could play in the company, in the community and in the world.

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