Posts Tagged ‘Comfort Zone’

Where did the unhappy people go? – Part 2

How many times have you said, “I can’t wait until…” or “I’ll be happy when I …?”

309/365 happy happy joy joy

Something has zapped the happiness of our workforce. According to the 2011 version of The Conference Board Job Satisfaction Survey only 47.2 percent of the respondents reported “satisfaction.” The first year for the survey (1987) a 61.1 percent satisfaction rate was recorded … yes, 61 percent!

The chicken or the egg?

So, which comes first happiness or success? Is it that …

  • People who work hard will be successful and successful people are happy people? Or,
  • People who are happy become more successful?

What do you think?

The advantage of happiness

Shawn Achor, in The Happiness Advantage, reveals the following:

Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56 percent. Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers.

It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at the best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive. (p. 15)

Fifty-six percent? Sounds good to me. So what makes the difference?

The curiosity of youth

Optimistic people experience life as an adventure. They face the day with joy, gratitude, appreciation, and … curiosity.

Curiosity is inquisitive thinking. What if…? How could we make it better? What could we do differently? Notice the thinking encouraged by these open-ended questions. They brim with untapped possibilities and potential. Life is to be explored.

After reading, “What if “they” fire the unhappy people?” Jeffrey commented from his Story:

I was blessed to spend a week at camp with 7-9 year old boys and just returned late last night. I saw wonder and curiosity in most boys and I saw unfathomable happiness in these boys. I also saw a dark cloud around some boys who rejected new adventures and were in the rut of being “fed” their entertainment at home.

What characterizes your life?

Are you feeding yourself “wonder and curiosity” or “easy entertainment?” The unhappy campers were in their comfort zone.

Which path are you taking?

What could happen in your Story if you are more optimistic … more curious?

Here’s to your Next Level,


PS: Enjoy this brief video (2:09) featuring Shan Achor answering the question: “What is the Happiness Advantage?”  If you prefer more content (12:29), here is Shawn Achor’s at TEDxBloomington.

Photo Credit: Katie Harris via Compfight

Where did the unhappy people go?

Mr. Fox, unhappy?

“I finally figured out how to improve employee morale,” David McInnis said to Roy Williams.

Productivity skyrockets and everyone loves coming to work. It’s program that never fails. Works every time.”

I stood there looking at David.

He stood there looking at me.

Finally, I raised my shoulders and turned my palms upward.

Looking steadily into my eyes, David said, “Fire all the unhappy people.”

Liberty to explore

Unhappy people seem to experience life as unfortunate, hopeless, ill fated, doomed, unsatisfactory or sad. What do you think … want to bet your success on the productivity of unhappy people?

In “What Happy People Do Differently” Todd Kasdan and Robert Biswas-Diener write:

Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Happy people are, simply put, curious.

Curiosity, it seems, is largely about exploration — often at the price of momentary happiness. Curious people generally accept the notion that while being uncomfortable and vulnerable is not an easy path, it is the most direct route to becoming stronger and wiser.  (Psychology Today July/August 2012 p. 53)

Freedom requires truth. How willing are you to explore your Story for truth (the facts and reality of your life)? How curious are you?

Go for it!

More than negative vs. positive, happy people seem to experience life as an adventure. They face the day with joy, gratitude and appreciation … curiosity. Life is big and designed to be explored … including their leadership development.

People who know their purpose and live with passion while serving others are happier. Overcoming fear, they challenge comfort zones and go for it. Who do you want on your team?

Welcome to “Spacious Place”

What would happen to “employee morale” if you and your team work as free people … living with purpose and passion while seeing and serving others?   

  • Purpose – Why you work beyond making a living. What’s the difference you want to make in the world? Why are you here?
  • Passion – What do you love to do?
  • Seeing others – How well do you see the people around you?
  • Serving others – How do you help others achieve success?

Imagine how engagement and productivity would soar if you and your team enjoyed the freedom and happiness that comes with “living life with purpose and passion while seeing and serving others.”

Sure, you can have “one of those days” but on the whole, how do others experience you at work?

If the unhappy people were fired, what would happen in your Story?

Photo credit: Aaron Hockley via Compfight

Are You a Greedy Monkey?

Here’s the short story about The Monkey and The Juggler.  

In a mango orchard outside a village there lived a mischievous monkey. The whole day, he would jump from one tree to another. Thus the monkey kept on eating the ripe mangoes. The orchard-keeper tried to trap the monkey. But every time the monkey escaped the trap.

Turning around

Masashi Mochida via Compfight

One day, the monkey wandered out to the nearby town. “The town people are so busy. There is so much crowd here,” the monkey thought. Soon the monkey was sneaking into houses and running away with eatables. By evening, he had made life difficult for the town people. “The town is more fun than the orchard. I will live here,” he thought.

Days went by and the town people with terror looked upon the monkey. “Here he comes again,” they screamed when they saw the monkey.

One day, a juggler came to the town. The people of the town approached him. “We want you to help us get rid of that mischievous monkey,” they said to the juggler. The juggler said in return, “Do not worry. Get me some jars with narrow necks,”

When the jars of the size were brought to him, he put peanuts into the jars and placed them out on a field.

The monkey became curious when he saw the jars. When he went and peeped inside the jars, he saw peanuts. “Yummy! Let me quickly grab the peanuts and run,” he thought. He put his hand inside the jar and grabbed a big handful.

But he could not pull out his clenched fist, as the neck of the jar was so narrow. If the monkey dropped some peanuts back into the jar, he could have pulled his hand out. But he was greedy. So he did not drop some peanuts into the jar.

The town people trapped the monkey with his hand inside the jar. They got hold of the rope and tied him to a post. Then the monkey was sold to a zoo.

That was the end of the greedy monkey.

What if you think you can, but you can’t?

Do you remember the two places in the personal development journey? We must exit the one to enter the other. When we make the move we are liberated to live with purpose and passion and achieve even more.

High performers exit their Comfort Zone, a non-threatening life of status quo thinking, behavior and low performance in order to march into new territory. Having calculated the risk, they enter their Safety Zone and go for it.

To leave your Comfort Zone requires self-efficacy – that “can do” way of thinking. How you see yourself…what you believe about your ability and how much you trust yourself determines whether you are stuck or will achieve your potential.

Self-efficacy theory suggests that personal mastery expectations highly influence behavior change. Self-managed leaders and high performance teams enjoy positive self-efficacy.

When do you let go?

In Demolition Friend I told the story of my decision to take on something I had not done before … replace carpeted stairs with oak treads and risers. I’m pleased to announce it was 97.5% successful.

The next step (no pun intended) was to build the stair and bannister rails. This required new newels, balusters, handrails, and wall rails. As I did with the stair replacement I wanted to believe “I can do this.”

After studying how to proceed I stepped into the task. This time I recognized the boundary of my Safety Zone. To continue was “high risk,” the potential of losing both time and money. It was time to release and delegate.

No amount of positivity would make up for my lack of experience. My self-efficacy, while sufficient for the steps, became scarce in with this task.

The truth is…

There are times when trying to boost your self-efficacy is not the answer … wisdom and prudence calls for letting it go.

As the ancient Hebrew Proverb says:

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

It is a sign of wisdom to acknowledge our limits and tap into our resources to get the job done.

The project required two experienced installers ten hours; I can only imagine how long it would have taken me. Writing that check felt good. I let go of “the peanut.”

The monkey lost his freedom as his clinched fist made him a hostage. His unwillingness to “let go” limited his potential.

What is in your hand? What are you clinching that could be holding you back?

Here’s to your next level…

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Enter the Safety Zone

Step on to the playground and listen. As tensions rise, you just might hear a preschooler or perhaps a kindergartener squeal, “My dad can do anything!”

Flash back to 1946 and hear the battle of the sexes put to music as Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton perform “Anything You Can Do” in Annie Get Your Gun.

Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you.

However, the battle for many is not whether their super hero can do something or even the competitive nature of “I can do better.” The conflict focuses on the measure of their ability to get it done and reach their goals.

I think I can, I think I can

In Demolition Friend I wrote about moving from your “Comfort Zone” into the “Safety Zone.” High performers exit the place of a non-threatening life of status quo thinking, behavior and low performance marching into new territory. While they calculate the risk, they go for it.

To exit the comfort zone requires self-efficacy, that “can do” way of thinking. What you believe about your ability and how much you trust yourself determines whether you take the exit or stay put.

Such is the reminder from our childhood story, The Little Engine that Could. The challenge to bust free of comfort zones comes regularly. So does opportunity.


Chris via Compfight

It’s not all about the job

Leadership development originates with you understanding you. Attaining the skills to “do the job” is the easy part. Self-managed leaders and high performance teams enjoy positive self-efficacy.

What you expect matters.

Self-efficacy theory suggests that personal mastery expectations highly influence behavior change. What you believe matters, too. I think I can, I think I can.

When it comes to changing unproductive behavior or implementing a new approach the question is: Do you believe you can successfully perform the behavior in question?

According to Bandura (1977), expectations of self-efficacy are the most powerful determinants of behavioral change because self-efficacy expectancies determine the initial decision to perform a behavior, the effort expended, and persistence in the face of adversity.

In another study Tabernero and Wood (2012) found

Self-efficacy beliefs contribute to explaining the range of difficulty people consider feasible to attempt when initial performance is controlled. Individuals with high self-efficacy chose tasks that maximized their learningopportunities.

Whether you decide to leave your comfort zone or not hinges on what you believe you can do.

Insight into you

Research done by Schyns and Collani (2002) provides these eight statements to help you evaluate your “Occupational Self-Efficacy.”

(Rate yourself with 1 = not at all true, 6 = completely true.)

  1. Thanks to my resourcefulness, I know how to handle unforeseen situations in my job.
  2. If I am in trouble at my work, I can usually think of something to do.
  3. I can remain calm when facing difficulties in my job because I can rely on my abilities.
  4. When I am confronted with a problem in my job, I can usually find several solutions.
  5. No matter what comes my way in my job, I’m usually able to handle it.
  6. My past experiences in my job have prepared me well for my occupational future.
  7. I meet the goals that I set for myself in my job.
  8. I feel prepared to meet most of the demands in my job.

Hello Safety Zone

Does your self-efficacy need a boost? If so, here are two simple exercises to help you out. With journal in hand…

1. Rehearse your successes.

You may find it helpful to explore your story using this approach: Divide your life into three seasons. (For example, if you are 36 years old, review ages 1-13 | 14-26 | 27-36.) Now, write at least 3 successes from each season.

Reflect often (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) on those successes when you moved from “I think I can” to “I thought I could.”

2. Read the Stories of others.

Discover people who decided to “go for it;” they left their comfort zone, stepped into their safety zone and moved forward.

It’s not about your “super hero” or whether you can do it “better” than him/her. The question is whether you believe you can do what is in front of you.

Here’s to your next level…

Two Reasons You Stay in a Comfort Zone

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.  – Brian Tracy

Picture by Steve Snodgrass* flickr

Where do you feel most at home in your work-life?

When are you the least anxious, stressed or threatened?

What situations present you with little strain or tension?

Your answers may reveal your comfort zone(s).

What about public speaking? For some just the thought of presenting before a large group creates anxiety, sweaty palms, and a dry mouth. I love it.

Fear and Comfort Strange Partners

The last couple of weeks my articles have invited you to move beyond fear to freedom.

Have you noticed situations do not have to be life threatening to render us stuck in self-limiting behavior? It’s true; a perceived threat or push back against us or our ideas can stir up fear and hinder our performance.

In fact, anticipation of “danger” often keeps individuals in their comfort zones. Fear is the gatekeeper of our comfort zones.

Why do we like it there?

In the past week, when did you relax?

Let me help you out – if you trying to remember what it means to relax?

To spend time resting or doing things for pleasure, especially in contrast to or as a relief from the effort and stress of everyday life; to become less intense and concentrated; to become less anxious, hostile, defensive, or formal. (Encarta Dictionary)

Now, with this meaning in mind, how often do you relax?

  • When do you spend time resting or doing things for pleasure?
  • How have you lightened up?
  • How intense are you … really?

Reality Check for Business Today

Increased stress in the work place is real. In his CFO article “Why Your Top Talent Wants Out” David McCann reports:

Employers appear to be missing the boat in their assumptions about what drives valued talent to seek opportunities elsewhere, judging from new research by consulting firm Towers Watson.

Human-resources professionals at 316 North American organizations identified opportunities for promotion as the top reason (among 23 listed on the survey) that high performers would leave. In a separate study of more than 10,000 employees, work-related stress was cited as the chief factor. Getting promoted was the second item on their list, but work stress didn’t crack the top five on the HR pros’ list.

“It points to a lack of awareness, and a resulting attrition risk that could play out if and when labor markets improve,” says Laury Sejen, global leader for Towers Watson. “Coming out of the recession, there’s been a mind-set shift from employees that employers may not have kept up with.”

Yet companies acknowledge they’ve been pushing people to work harder. In the survey, 65% of the HR people said employees have been working more hours than normal over the past three years, and 53% said workers will continue to put in the expanded hours over the next three years.

What is the affect of more pressure and stress on performance? How might too little time for relaxation decrease innovation?

Back to the question: Why do we like comfort zones?

Perhaps part of the answer is the need to relax. In the midst of such intensity who doesn’t desire a place of comfort?

What is a comfort zone?

Consider Alasdair White’s explanation of comfort zone in his eBook, From Comfort Zone to Performance Management:

The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk (emphasis added). [Wikipedia]

Where is your worry-free time and place? For some people finding such space it difficult; it’s inconceivable to even think about leaving it.

Unfortunately, security means most people live below their potential. Their life is marked by what it takes to get by, unwilling to take the risk.

How does this help explain the temptation to stay in a comfort zone? The thought goes … Life is stressful enough without leaving my “cozy zone”. What’s wrong with having a comfort zone?

It comes down to two reasons we embrace comfort zones: fear and weariness. To break out of a comfort zone requires energy to push through the fear and evaluate another approach.

What do you think? Please comment below.


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*Brian Tracy (Self-help Author, Motivational Speaker); 1944 – Source: ThinkExist

Photo Source Steve Snodgrass on flickr

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