How Comfortable Is Too Comfortable?

April 11th, 2017

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Comfort … Let’s face it most of us enjoy some degree of comfort in our lives. Life just seems easier, simpler and less complicated with a little bit of comfort in the mix. BUT can we be too comfortable?

Absolutely we can!

For many of us some of our richest experiences and greatest achievements have come from stepping outside of our comfort zone. Pushing the boundaries of our circle of comfort more often than not brings new knowledge, new networks, new opportunities and lessons that sustain us well after the experience has ended. It also invariably lights a spark and fuels a passion for what we do.

In talking with many business leaders the greatest challenge they face is managing and facing an attitude of indifference…. indifference about careers, indifference about business and indifference about opportunities. It’s this lack of ownership that is dangerous.

It’s not so much a case of loving or hating your role. If you hate your job, quitting would be easy. What’s more common is the lull in between – the comfortable zone. It’s the going through the motion feeling; the response of ‘fine’ when someone asks you how your day was; or the shrug of the shoulders followed by ‘what’s the point?’.

The most dangerous path is the apathetic path and it is a frighteningly easy one to fall into.

By definition, apathy is a lack of feeling, interest or concern. It is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as excitement, motivation and/or passion.

As Jane Goodall says, it is the greatest danger to our future. Dangerous to both our personal future and that of the business’s that we lead.

We’ve all had moments of apathy about our work but if we aren’t mindful of it, it can easily become a perpetuating cycle that we can get caught in. The key to not ending up in the cycle or to breaking it is firstly recognising that you are in it and knowing that there is an alternative way of operating.

What is the apathy cycle?

  • You become indifferent about what you do, your impact and contribution and you start operating at a lower level.
  • You mentally shut down.
  • The people around you lower their expectations of both your capability and you personally.
  • You become discouraged by the negative nature of the cycle and easily slip between indifference and outright resentment.
  • Your performance levels really slide greatly impacting your ‘career currency’ reputation and future career opportunities.
  • Cycle begins again, only this time rather than being indifferent, you actively dislike your role.

Apathy is like a disease and when it starts to grow it infects all who come in to contact. It transfers from one person to the next and if we aren’t careful across teams, spreading like wildfire.

Thankfully though for every force there is a counter-force; for every negative there is a positive. Just as apathy can easily be a perpetuating cycle, so too can a passionate cycle.

What is the passionate cycle?

  • You are inspired and actively engaged in your work and produce better results.
  • These results become the driving force to grow, learn and raise your level of contribution.
  • Your professional reputation and ‘career currency’ is elevated.
  • Your network grows because people want to work with inspired and positive people; and your results attract interest in what you do and how you do it.
  • Your confidence is elevated allowing you to continue to bring more of yourself to both the role and the business you lead.
  • Cycle begins again, only this time you are more passionate about your role, your value and the possibilities of greater success.

The apathy cycle drains and the passionate cycle builds.

We all have the power to break the cycle of apathy. Finding yourself in a situation that sucks your passion and zest for what you do is exhausting and debilitating. Creating and placing ourselves in situations that inject fresh energy and passion though is ultimately within our control. The choice is ours.

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