When a baby leaves the mother’s womb, it’s uncomfortable and there starts our quest for comfort. Babies are cute and cry to ensure they are made comfortable and fed when hungry. The habit continues with every new generation of parents making life more comfortable for their children than what their parents did for them.
The quest for physical comfort has been a barometer for progress and mountains of waste – refrigerators, washing machines, ovens, grinders, juicers, air-conditioners, heaters, automobiles, mattresses.. Almost all modern appliances are designed to make you physically comfortable. We have paid a huge price because each of these also introduced harmful substances into the environment, made us less active 🙂 and with lots of free time that we promptly waste !
The quest for emotional comfort has created mountains of fat and social dropouts …. Comfort foods, processed ready-to-heat-and-eat food, easy access to sweets or sugary food stuff, larger portion sizes, our wonderful colas, copious amounts of liquor and you have an obese generation, that dies of heart attacks at a young age.
Quest for comfort in working relationships creates cliques and the need to carry “your” team with you. Incompetent people carried around by ineffective managers many times. Sure, comfort in working relationships is essential, but many times it lulls you into accepting substandard work and keeping only those people you are comfortable with. I have a pet theory, that only when you are uncomfortable, you grow. The comfort zone has to be breached constantly. If you operate in your comfort zone all the time, you never test your limits. It applies to working with people who are different as much as doing new and different work. People easily accept new and different work, but shy away from working with different people. Leaders’ quest for comfort more often creates coteries than high performance teams. The hallmark of high performance teams is every team member is comfortable with the differences between them, they are comfortable working with each other, but will test each other constantly.
I have worked in a team like this and it’s made me wake up everyday and get to the office because I liked meeting these folks. We fought over every rating, about rose tinted glasses and dark glasses, debated every agenda, made our boss sweat, but we made lifelong friends, who pushed each other to do better, but weren’t a clique.
Incompetence combined with the quest for comfort just creates cliques, where I won’t point out your mistake, you don’t point out mine and we won’t let any smarter person to be a part of the team. No one gets better and performance be damned. This kind of comfort zone needs a breakup 🙂 provided you survive the clique and can break it up.
I always test my comfort zone, if I feel am getting comfortable in any role, I change the measurements or the bar. People who work with me know they will have to move into new roles and try different things, they won’t get to stay in their comfort zone. Get uncomfortable, exercise is uncomfortable, but do it regularly and you stay healthy, don’t eat food that is sweet all the time, you will live long, don’t do only things you are comfortable doing, try something new. Fail, fall down, lose some sleep but get up uncomfortably early and watch a magnificent sunrise or stay up uncomfortably late and read up for that exam – stretch your limits, just as stretching is good for your muscles, it’s good for your learning and living too.
Start the quest for the uncomfortable and new 🙂