Monday, May 5, 2014

Can You Be TOO Comfortable ?

From our earliest experiences in life, comfort is something we naturally seek after.  Whether cradled in the arms of our mother or father, or feeling like we have just the right fit to our clothes, even as babies we instinctively know when we're comfortable.

"You will never want to leave"
As adults, the efforts we undergo to attain that comfort we seek are sometimes laughable, as are the reactions we have when we are not comfortable (wouldn't it be easier sometimes if we could just cry like a baby or scream like a toddler when we're not comfortable as adults?)
In our relationships, with basic needs (food, clothing, shelter), and even in social constructs including church, parties, or extended family gatherings, we still seek comfort and avoid discomfort.  We also do this at work.  And just like with any of the other comfortable situations, this can actually become too much of a good thing.

There is value in being comfortable at work, but there is danger also.  Becoming too comfortable in what we know or what we are doing can eventually keep us from trying to learn and grow.  It can be a very quick decline from being filled with energy and passion and curiosity to a state of complacency or a why-does-it-even-matter attitude.  This can then begin to have a negative impact on not just the work environment, but even that life/work balance everyone tries to find comfort around as well.  Despite our best efforts, work does come home with us and things in our personal life spill over at work.  So it is important to find a proper balance between comfort and challenging ourselves to doing more.

Consider an introspective series of questions if you feel you might be too comfortable.  Here are just a few examples to get you started:
What have you learned recently?  What questions have you asked?  Where could you be performing better if you only had more [knowledge, skills, experience, coaching, etc.]?  What is going well in the current environment?  What is going poorly?  What do peers complain about?  Could you actually do anything to improve on that?  Are you "phoning it in" or does your day-to-day work actually get the best you have to offer?  If you're not giving it your all, ask why not?  When did it change?  What could YOU do to change it back?  Do you need to seriously consider a role or even career change?

I am grateful to have recently worked with several great people who believe in and support the concept of creating positive discomfort for ourselves and others we work with.  This means we ask those questions above and then work together to push ourselves out of our comfort zones so that growth can happen.  Without that support, I fear I could have easily become lethargic and largely unproductive, not just at work but in all aspects of my life.

Song Of The Day:
Many people embrace their comforts but remain stagnant out of fear.  I believe most people are more afraid of change than they are just plain lazy.  Positive Discomfort is the opposite of easy.  It requires work and effort and most challenging: facing the unknown.  So today I'm bringing back "Freedom 90" by George Michael, because there is real freedom in leaving the comfortable and entering the uncomfortable.  As any good infomercial warns us: results may vary.  But wouldn't you rather try something new and see what happens than just stay in your limiting comfort zone?  Overcome that fear by bringing a friend along with you.  At the very least you'll have a story to tell later.


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