If your (erstwhile) success seems limited these days or you feel that success is hard to come by, read on...
70% of the people are in the comfort zone (as opposed to the learning and zones), doing routine things day in and day out. While the routine may be comforting the world around us is always evolving; succeeding in it requires us to evolve too. Each one of us has a comfort zone – a ‘place’ where we feel physically and emotionally safe, and live on ‘auto pilot’. You do not need to develop any new skills or learn anything new to stay in that comfort zone. If you like routine, seeing the same familiar things and doing the same things you have always done, you are probably in your comfort zone. It is a place where nothing particularly challenging happens – you feel no pressure, stress or anxiety. This is also the zone where people relax and reflect. All of us like to spend time in the comfort zone. Some people are content remaining in their comfort zone and never want to leave it. Yet others see the opportunities outside their comfort zones and venture to grow and gain more out there. Success depends on whether you choose to remain in that comfort zone or constantly stretch outside it.
In business, the market keeps evolving – appears to be changing faster now than just five short years ago – and requires business people to evolve as well. Growing businesses require growing business leaders.
There are three kinds of personal zones – the comfort zone (where you feel safest), the stretch zone (where you stretch or expand on existing capabilities, or dip your toe in something new) and the danger zone (where you have little knowledge or capabilities and the downsides are huge). The risks are lowest in your comfort zone and highest in the danger zone.
What is wrong with living just in your comfort zone?
As with most things in life, doing things in moderation has more benefits than doing nothing or binging. That is true for the comfort zone as well. Scientific studies have shown that living in the comfort zone produces no anxiety while living in the danger zone (adrenaline junkies) causes extreme stress and could be fatal. But, living in the stretch zone produces anxiety, but not too much.
Moreover, research has found that some amount of anxiety increases interest and attention (remember the day you have a big client meeting). The best analogy that comes to mind is lifting weights in the gym. You cannot build muscle by lifting no weights but you cannot lift 1000 pounds of weights either. You have to find the right amount of weight that will stretch your lifting capability and then keep increasing it. If you do not constantly increase the weight you lift, your muscles will stop building. Skills and capabilities are like muscles – they only grow with constant practice and stretching.
Living in the Danger Zone
There are many people in business who constantly venture into the danger zone, believing that they can succeed like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet without the necessary knowledge, skills, preparation or capabilities. The people who often ‘live here’ are the ones who buy lottery tickets (1 chance in 259,000,000 of winning), those hoping to win by just hitting repeated home runs (the all-time champion Mark McGuire hit 1 homerun for every 10 at-bats while taking steroids) or believe they are smarter than the market and everybody else. This is also where ignorant and desperate people play, often with disastrous consequences. According to studies, 10% of the people spend a majority of their time in this zone.
Living in the Learning Zone
How do you feel when you exercise with discipline and feel stronger by lifting heavier weights or lose 5 pounds after disciplined dieting? Those are examples of practicing and stretching regularly. The same goes for doing something new in your business, learning a new language or developing a new insight from a book you just read. All of those activities release endorphins that energize you.
The stretch zone is where learning happens. According to studies, only 20% of the people spend a majority of their time in this zone. An interesting tidbit – about 75% of all businesses started in America fail within 10 years – correlation or coincidence? Similarly, according to Rob Slee, respected investor and expert on private companies, about 80% of all privately held companies do not generate enough return to cover their cost of capital – correlation or coincidence?
People often announce tall goals and objectives without necessarily knowing how, developing the necessary skills or acquiring the necessary knowledge to achieve them. These are people who live in the danger zone or are dreamers living in the comfort zone – they do not (and will not) do anything other than proclaim goals and dates.
When it comes to succeeding in business, the Business Thinking Institute has developed a framework of the success factors. Systematically choosing to develop your strengths, knowledge and skills for each success factor while shoring up your weaknesses could put you on the path to business success. You can check out the business success factors here. Your comfort zone (how much time you spend in it and how comfortable you are getting out of it) is the first of our business success factors.
Leaving the comfort zone requires overcoming the voice within that tells you that you cannot do it. That is the topic of a future blogpost. You can join the Business Thinking Institute and get access to the blogpost and some other sections for free – just click here.
ARE YOU WONDERING IF YOU ARE STUCK IN YOUR COMFORT ZONE? TAKE THIS SHORT QUIZ AND FIND OUT.....http://businessthinking.com/quiz/are-you-stuck-your-comfort-zone
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