The book, Who Moved My Cheese is a story by Spencer Johnson. It is a motivational business fable about how to deal with change in your personal and professional life. It describes typical reactions to change by two mice and two little people. It is a must-read book for anyone who is having difficulty navigating change.
What is a Comfort Zone?
Being one that love quotes, I begin with one from John Assaraf. “A Comfort Zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” According to Merriam Webster “a comfort zone is the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity.” It is that area in our lives, where we can do things with our eyes closed and still get them “right”.
Comfort zones, well, keep us comfortable. The likelihood of us messing up is usually very small when we are operating in our comfort zones. It is the area we guard and make excuses for. It has a home-like feeling, and therefore, a place we certainly do not want to leave.
The Challenge of Comfort Zones
Many times, what make comfort zones comfortable are also what make them dangerous. Comfort zones can be very addictive. We tend to hold on to them for dear life and can almost find it unthinkable for someone to suggest that we leave them.
In the comedy show, “Sandford and Sons”, one of the episodes talks about BB King looking for the man who married his childhood sweetheart, EW. The understanding was that he was going to deal with the person, when he found him. He finally met the man and gave him a check of $1000 for marrying his sweetheart (Esther). Baffled, the man and everyone else around wondered what that was about. BB King shared that had he married his childhood sweetheart, he would have settled, and never made it out of St. Louis, to become the great BB King that he became.
The nature of comfort zones is that they may seem comfortable, as long as that is what we are willing to see. Change is seen as the “beast” that must be avoided at all costs. Change causes us to put on our familiar uniforms and hide in the crowd, hoping not to be discovered.
When Comfort Zones Become Uncomfortable
Comfort zones, however become uncomfortable when we step away from them for a moment. We begin to have the tingling feeling that all is not quite right. These are moments when we see people come and go, leaving us behind. It could be the moment when we watch our colleagues achieve great heights, get promoted, or when people we train turnaround to become our bosses. Comfort zones become uncomfortable when the business becomes uncomfortable with us and decide to make a change. Those are the moments we look around and realize indeed that we are stuck! What now, we wonder?
Time to Make a Shift
The solution to navigating our comfort zones lies in our willingness to step away from them. This may require a change in perspective, or as the famous saying goes, “thinking outside the box.” Stepping away from our comfort zones may truly feel very uncomfortable at first, but if we stick it out, we might find more and better “cheese”, like the two little mice did in the book, “Who Moved My Cheese”. The reaction that often happens when we have the courage to step away from our comfort zones and find the unexpected “cheese” is that we wonder why it took us so long. Incredibly, we often find, that apart from wasted years and the remorse we feel, generally nothing breaks!
What is your comfort zone today? Where are you playing small in your life, while people come and go, and others pass you by? Dare to think outside the box. You may start with taking a peek, and gradually, the courage would come, if you do not quit! Peeking might take the form of hiring a coach. The benefit being that a coach would not only support you to take a peek but would be willing to ride beside you as you navigate your comfort zone to be where you need to be. Why not book a call today?