The Status Quo is no longer enough
As we know, people are always striving for growth, in both their personal and professional lives and in our own business’ growth leads to new ideas and opportunities. To make progress, you need to move away from the status quo and take risks that push your limits – but for most, that’s easier said than done. Your comfort zone is where you feel safe and secure, so leaving it can be terrifying. However, as terrifying as it might seem, you know deep down that outside of that “comfort zone” is where true growth occurs.
Fear of Public Speaking
One example to illustrate the impact of stepping out of your comfort zone is public speaking. Most of us have to do some type of speaking in front of a group at some point in our personal or professional lives. But very few of us are naturals at it - it’s something we have to learn.
When you're new to public speaking, you get up in front of the audience and your body seems out of your control. You start shaking, you can't look up from your notes, your voice quavers, and you start to forget the contents of your presentation.
But then, you learn some techniques to help make it easier. You practice making eye contact with the audience and projecting your voice. Most of all, even though it's scary and uncomfortable, you start taking opportunities to get in front of people and speak. You may never totally overcome your fear of public speaking, but at the very least you improve and can speak without freezing up.
We're using public speaking as a metaphor because it’s a common fear familiar to most people, but this is how any new challenge works. You can become a good public speaker if you get out of your comfort zone and practice.
This is also true of all other new things we face in both our personal and professional lives. Just as a person grows into a public speaker through learned skills and practice, you can grow by facing your fears.
The problem with staying where you are
The comfort zone, or status quo is a natural place to be and it's generally a good thing. It keeps us safe, identifies and protects us from threats, and helps us succeed by doing what works.
Fear of change is a natural human instinct that’s useful when you’re hunting on the savanna and there are lions prowling around. But it’s a hindrance, not a help, when you’re running a business and trying to grow, or attempting to make positive changes in your personal life.
Sometimes, in order to move forward, we have to smash the status quo.
What's wrong with being in your comfort zone?
Staying in your comfort zone has a direct impact on your business and the way you manage everything involved. Step back for a moment and consider the following:
Stagnant ideas. Growth is fueled by new ideas and trying different things. It's natural to stick with what has always worked. But this can also easily lead you straight into a rut. Change is one of the only constants in life, and if you don’t embrace it, you’ll stagnate. You may miss out on new opportunities that can give you even better results for your efforts. To grow, you need a steady stream of new ideas.
Slipping behind the competition. Your competitors are most certainly stepping out of their comfort zones and looking for new ideas. Even if they aren't, you can't afford to get smug. Those who forge ahead and embrace change get a competitive advantage over those who don't. Staying in a rut virtually ensures that you'll fall behind the competition.
No drive to achieve goals. Think of a goal you've managed to achieve in the past. Was it something you could coast along towards and achieve by doing nothing? Any goal worth achieving requires us to step out of our comfort zone. Attaining goals also requires positivity. When you’re trapped in a fear mindset, you’re constantly expecting the worst, and this doesn’t motivate you to achieve your goals.
You grow through mistakes. The main thing that stops us from taking chances is fear of failure. But failure is how we learn and grow. You learn from your own mistakes. If you’re paralyzed by the fear of making mistakes, either in business or personal life, you don't learn or gain the experience you need in order to grow. Remember: If there's no risk, there's no reward.
Less engagement. If you stick with the status quo, you'll see less engagement among your employees and team members. Countless studies show that staying in your comfort zone leads to employee apathy and lack of motivation. When you push your team to take chances, it motivates and inspires them, which gets them engaged and contributing more. Doing this, your team as a whole can achieve the same results in terms of innovation and inspiration as you can individually.
The comfort zone limits your growth. When staying in the zone - with the status quo, there's only so much you can grow personally or professionally. The status quo defines your limitations - now it's time to break them. Challenge-by-challenge and step-by-step, you can gradually expand and even erase those limits.
Little buzz to generate new business. New business ideas and opportunities don't come from sitting in a rut. When you learn to take chances and create a culture of facing challenges head-on for yourself and in your team, it builds momentum and leads to new opportunities coming your way.
So, what can you do to start making a change? Try this exercise: Write down 3 ways in which you have stuck to the status quo in your business or personal life in the last year.
Now, write down what you could’ve done in those situations to break out of your comfort zone and embrace change instead.