True leaders lead people to achieve outstanding outcomes that few see and most don’t believe are possible. What if the followers have trouble believing they can achieve their part?
How often do you need and want people to tackle a goal or vision that you believe to be achievable but people around you are dragging their feet? How often do you feel you have your followers’ commitment to the overall vision but the goal steps for getting there seem to be major hurdles? Why is it that some people who appear to have all the skills and abilities to knock the cover off the ball and achieve great things have only excuses?
One of the greatest thieves of human potential is the comfort zone. Many people are reluctant to venture out for fear of failure, pain or embarrassment. They are drawn back to the performance they are comfortable with, and they shy away from the awkward, risky, uncomfortable activities that would propel them beyond their current situation.
“The inability to break free of the tentacles of the past is the reason most people accomplish far less than they are capable of and remain unfulfilled and dissatisfied for most of their lives.” Brian Tracy
A comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which a person maintains a sense of security. It is a reflection of how we think and feel about ourselves and the world around us. It’s how we view the world and our place in it and how we expect things to be. Within the comfort zone are all the skills and activities we believe we perform well. Outside the comfort zone are all the skills and activities we find challenging. Being inside the comfort zone is comfortable; outside is risky and scary.
There is a natural inclination to stay within the comfort zone. We are drawn there when the stakes are high because we’re out of harm’s way. We feel secure. Most people don’t push past their comfort zone at all for fear of disappointment, pain and embarrassment. Some may push past but fall back within the comfort zone when confronted with a difficult objective, task or roadblock.
Here’s a leaders dilemma. No meaningful change will come without getting out of one’s comfort zone. To achieve a grandiose vision or outcome, leaders must get followers to commit to move well beyond the norm and out of the comfort zone and stay there.
More on the comfort zone and how to get followers to move out and stay out in Part Two and Three.