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Something To Sleep On Newsletter from 05/06/2018

Quote I am Pondering: “ … he not busy being born is busy dying.” – Bob Dylan

Can Staying in Your Comfort Zone Kill Your Company?

What if staying in your comfort zone can actually kill you … not you personally … but your company? I’ve come perilously close to seeing this happen.

We understand that true growth occurs when you nudge yourself outside of your comfort zone. I’ve written about it, as have many others before me. In the words of David Bowie, when you “… go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in … go a little bit out of your depth … and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” We all get that, right?

But what if remaining in your comfort zone results in more than just ultimate stagnation? What if it’s a recipe for imminent death. And what if you don’t even recognize it?

A few years ago, a company asked me to help deal with some serious leadership issues. At one time they had been a disruptor, a first-adopter, a pioneer of what would become a game-changing product concept in their industry. The co-founder and chairman of the company was a charismatic, visionary and highly innovative leader who had led the company to great heights. But in recent years the company had languished, at least in so far as continued growth in the marketplace was concerned. There was a vacuum at the C-level. There was a sense of entitlement among some key rank-and-file members of the organization. New business was not being generated.

The irony, however, was that the company was doing very well financiallyfor the moment, from very rich annuity streams. These annuity streams ensured a level of financial comfort for the organization’s key members … for the moment. However, since there was no perceived need to move beyond a zone of comfort and financial security, the executives had lost touch with the changing marketplace. On top of this, external factors beyond the company’s control mandated a change in its business model.

It is customary for annuity streams from past business to attrit over time, eventually dwindling to a point they are no longer material. And the pace of attrition increases as time passes. If the front of end of the revenue pipeline is not continually fed, the company will eventually run out of money. But when you’re living in your comfort zone, enjoying rich revenue streams and feeling a sense of entitlement, it’s hard to believe that the wine cellar will ever be empty.

What’s needed in a situation like this is a transformational change in the organization’s belief systems and collective mindset. A radical change in the company’s business model. One that recognizes and acknowledges the changes that have occurred in the marketplace and that effectively responds to those changes by reinventing itself. One that forces you to shake yourself out of your comfort zone before it’s too late. Absent that … it’s just a matter of time.

Catch yourself before it’s too late, shake yourself senseless if you have to … but whatever it takes, get out of your comfort zone when there’s still an opportunity to transform your business. Don’t take the expedient approach and assume that everything will work out, that the comfort you currently enjoy will surely continue. It never does!

Force Discomfort To Do Great Things

Check out this article from Forbes on Overcoming Fear: 10 Ways To Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. The article focuses on steps you can take to nudge yourself out of your comfort zone. The more the individuals in an organization get this, the more their mindsets change, the greater impact they will have on the organization as a whole. Bottom line … force discomfort no matter how hard it is … and do great things!

Weekly Question:

How can more intentionally force yourself out of your comfort zone? And how could it benefit the future success of your company?

For over thirty years, Mike has been actively involved, as a coach, entrepreneur, scientist, business executive and management consultant, in the areas of executive leadership, organizational development and change management, strategic planning and execution, and financial analysis. He has provided strategic, operational and financial leadership to small and medium-sized firms, as well as Fortune 500 companies and large government organizations, in a broad range of industries. Mike holds BS and PhD degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology and has had additional training in finance and accounting, strategic planning and management, leadership development, and succession planning, from various top-tier institutions.

Mike Cobb

Mike has provided strategic, operational and financial leadership to small and medium-sized firms, as well as Fortune 500 companies and large government organizations, in a broad range of industries.

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