In my previous blog post I explored what it means to be operating from your comfort zone, or as I call it from the ”cosseting of your comfort blanket”. This time I’ll explore with you what it means to be operating outside of the box …
In our business plans there are step changes such as growth; I can’t imagine that anyone plans to stay exactly where they are as that’s simply stagnation and we know what happens when stagnation occurs – healthy life can’t be supported. Businesses and people that stagnate will stay the same at best and start to deteriorate at worse. All it takes is just that little bit of effort to push open the lid of the box and put one foot outside, and in doing something “outside of the box” it will be outside of your comfort zone – new, different, perhaps something you’re uncertain about. There maybe a little bit of apprehension and a little bit of tension as you explore more. Perhaps you’ll even feel some excitement?
You know that feeling, the one that creates a buzz and makes you feel alive and in flow? All feelings you don’t get when you are in your comfort zone. And you know what when you are operating from that place, you explore, you develop, you create and innovate.
Maybe if you really are unsure of operating outside of the box you could do with some help? The classic way of doing this would be to model others, something that Paul Matthews of People Alchemy Ltd spoke about recently and also captured beautifully at the end of a commencement speech by Neil Garmin where he talks about doing something new and if you don’t know how to do it find someone who does – copy them and behave like them – and pretty soon you’ll be doing it.
So who do you know who operates outside of the box and does it very well? Don’t be totally dismissive of the people who haven’t been successful as they have lessons to teach you too. Talk to people including those in other business sectors or even part of your own support team. Modelling someone who is ok isn’t good enough as you are simply modeling ok and not excellence. There is a model in NLP where we start from a place of “unconscious incompetence”. Not only can’t we do something but we don’t know we can’t do it either. Then we move to a place of “conscious competence” where we know we can do it and ultimately to “unconscious competence” a place where not only can we do it but we do it effortlessly and as second nature and thats effectively where we want to get to effortless flow.
Test what you are doing, what’s inherent to a particular success model, and what’s not. How it works for you, your business, and your clients and then refine. And as it becomes second nature your comfort zone will effectively have expanded but it won’t be the same type of comfort zone where you are taking the easy option but where things are effortless and flow. Perhaps we should call that your “flow zone”? It’s only when you become complacent that the flow zone reverts to the comfort zone. From the flow zone there will be more step changes that will grow the business and conversely reverting to the comfort zone there will be stagnation after a while.
So is your comfort zone a good place to be? Well for day to day routine tasks perhaps but then if there are day to day routine tasks that you don’t like doing – and if you are like me I’m sure there are several that you can call to mind – then perhaps there are things that you can change? How could you approach a task in a way that you see has value for you or your clients? You could even model someone who does that task well, couldn’t you? But otherwise I’d suggest that if you are only operating from your comfort zone and not outside of the box (or in your flow zone) that you are stuck. So how can that be comfortable? It might feel safe but you and I both know that it rarely is!
Peter Thompson suggests that if we ever find ourselves in our comfort zone then it should actually be called the “rut zone” or the “discomfort zone” and we should be focused on getting out of it. I wholeheartedly agree with that! A different way of looking at it would be to put the cosseting comfort blanket away and kick out the sides of your box!
After I’d planned my recent presentation on “comfort zone or comfort blanket” it occurred to me that this was something that I needed to hear as like many I’m transitioning my business. I’ve sought my comfort zone from time to time and stayed there a little too long – making some of that procrastination soup. And in writing and talking I’ve been putting my head above the parapet and sharing my experience, knowledge and understanding of a number of topics which has taken me out of my comfort zone and when I do start to explore and to share then I move effortlessly into my flow zone.
The other thing that occurred to me is that by staying in our comfort zone we are denying our gifts and greatness to our business, our clients, and ourselves. Who are we to do that? To paraphrase Marianne Williamson, “when we share those gifts great things happen – and not just for us – one of those great things is that we inspire others”.
I’m kicking out the sides of my box and throwing off my comfort blanket – dare you do the same? As always, call me on +44 (0) 1296 681 094, ping me an email or leave a comment if you’d like to talk further.
Until next time …