It is not often a blog starts with a quote from Soren Kierkegaard, but bear with me on this one. The Danish philosopher wrote:
With this thought in mind, I propose this supposition: that when things seem to be going well, we should focus our time and efforts on pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone…we need to make things hard for ourselves. Here are a few things I have learned by stepping out of my comfort zone: If you aren’t challenged, you won’t change; sometimes you win, sometimes you learn; and the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Keep reading to learn how to be uncomfortable.
1. If you aren’t challenged, you won’t change.
We have to consistently challenge everything that we think about our business. In this age of digital disruption, you have to look at what competitors or technologies could disrupt your business--and then you need to be a first mover to these trends, without just being trendy. What will augmented or virtual reality do to help your clientele? Is big data or artificial intelligence (AI) going to change how you do business? There are always new buzzwords or bleeding edge fads that will come and go . . . it is your job to push your team to understand which new trends will be business drivers and find one that is worth pursuing. While you have to be careful not be everything to everyone, you do have to keep up with the future needs in your business vertical.
2. Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn
In his book by the same name, John Maxwell lays out the prospect that if you aren’t always winning, you aren’t necessarily losing . . . sometimes you learn more than you could have if you had been successful the first time. Thomas Edison is famous for saying “I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” In a conference presentation by Simon Sinek, he mentioned in his organization at the end of each year, they give a prize and celebrate the biggest failure of the year. Embrace failure and you will embrace a culture of big ideas, or as Jim Collins identified it in his book Good to Great: Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar Studios adroitly said, "Failure is not a necessary evil, it is a necessary consequence of trying something new."
3. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself “
This quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt encouraged Americans to face fear head on. Our first step on the road to greater achievement focuses on the little things we know we should do but don’t feel comfortable doing. If we push ourselves to do the little things that thrust us outside our comfort zone our confidence will begin to grow. Unless you are doing something dangerous or risky, nothing bad is going to happen to you. To the contrary, that knot in your stomach is your signal that growth and opportunity lay ahead. So, feel the fear and do it anyway. As Dale Carnegie said, “Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.”