Where’s your comfort zone? Chances are it’s right where you live and work every day. As humans, we naturally seek out comfort zones, places or states where we can operate with little anxiety, low stress, and an assurance of our own competence.
Comfortable? Pros and Cons
It’s called “comfortable” for a reason; we feel relaxed and more at ease when we face every day knowing exactly how to complete our tasks, what the outcomes will be, and confident that we won’t face any unexpected challenges.
There is a downside, though; we don’t grow, as people, professionals, businesses or business owners, in a place like this. Growth, by definition, requires us to stretch our abilities, push forward out of our comfortable little compartments, and seek out new skills and new achievements. Growth occurs outside of our comfort zone, in a place or a state that will probably make us uncomfortable, unsure, or even occasionally anxious.
Some people absolutely thrive on challenges. You may know a few people like this (or you may be one); they are creative problem-solvers who wade in where angels fear to tread and face challenges head-on. They gain tremendous satisfaction from learning new skills and reaching progressively higher levels of performance.
However, that’s not the majority. Most people will naturally gravitate to a performance level where they feel un-threatened and competent. Once there, they tend to slide into a ‘groove’ and avoid conflict, stress, or challenge.
Smart Stress at Work
Research in the academic world has confirmed a definite relationship between stress or anxiety and enhanced, more focused performance. That’s a pretty obvious truth – when we are under stress, we are less prone to distraction, and bring a heightened sense of awareness to whatever task is at hand.
What’s relatively new is the concept of utilizing strategic stress to stimulate business and professional growth. If we – or our team – are too comfortable in our day-to-day functions, we may never realize the incredible potential for progress and development in our practices. The comfort zone is a short-cut to flat or minimal growth year-over-year.
Here’s the question for you: should you challenge your team (and yourself) to step outside of the comfort zone, or allow them to continue operating under the status quo?
If you are brave enough to push their limits a little, you may recognize some amazing benefits. A challenging workplace generally produces higher levels of efficiency, employee engagement, and patient satisfaction. All of these are good things that lead to growth in the practice and in the personnel.
On the other hand, your pursuit of improvements may lead to resistance from your staff, at least at the outset. You’ll need to decide if the potential rewards are worth the effort of overcoming internal objections.