“The reality is we’ve gone from an average football team to a good football team; to a great football team and we’ve worked hard to do those things…but we’re not an elite football team, yet.”
The ninth-ranked Nittany Lions had just lost to No. 4 Ohio State University, 27-26. In his postgame press conference, Head Coach James Franklin took responsibility and cast a vision for Penn State’s football program.
“We’re comfortable being great, and I’m going to make sure that everybody in our program, including myself, is very uncomfortable because you only grow in life when you’re uncomfortable.”
How uncomfortable are you in life?
The people project
One powerful reality of being human is our capacity to grow, to change, and to get better.
The flip side of being human is our desire for comfort; that’s why it’s so easy to get stuck.
There are three zones in the Next Level Journey to breakthrough performance. The Comfort Zone plays off your commitment to comfort and resistance to change.
Opposition to necessary change limits personal growth and your team’s performance. It’s easy to settle for the “status quo” because of a bias to keep things the same.
In his excellent book, Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud nails it when he writes:
Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on. Growth itself demands that we move on. Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming whom they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.
Why are we inclined to keep doing the same thing over and over? The familiar feels safe, it’s what you know, there’s less self-doubt, stress, or tension. It’s comfortable.
If you expect a breakthrough to Next Level performance to be comfortable, individually or for your team, you’re in for a big surprise.
The Comfort Zone appeals to your desire to stay comfortable.
The discomfort of growth
Competence fuels confidence. United together, competence and belief can develop into a comfortable space and subtly stir-up a resistance to change.
The highly promoted asks, “Why should I change how I communicate, it got me here?”
The intentional response of a growing leader recognizes, “I got here in spite of my poor communication style, how can I get better?”
For a team, it could sound like, “I like our current structure, why change it?” “I like our process, and it’s working, why change it?”
Competence fuels confidence, which can develop into status quo performance. Whether the structure, a process, or a behavior, improvement requires being open to change for growth to continue.
Growth only happens when you’re uncomfortable.
The here to better journey
To experience improved performance, you must take action and to do so involves risk. Once you recognize your Comfort Zone and decide to leave, you enter the Safety Zone. Here, you see the risk but go for it.
You are willing to be uncomfortable to get better.
Having left your Comfort Zone and entered the Safety Zone, you engage your Growth Zone. The Growth Zone is where change happens. It is where you choose to exercise your ability and willingness to learn and change.
You are uncomfortable, but improving your performance.
Experimenting with a new way to communicate, with a different structure or refreshed process can feel awkward, clumsy, uneasy, and uncomfortable, at first. The temptation to quit the Next Level Journey and return to your Comfort Zone is real.
Determination is required when you feel uncomfortable.
Create Space to Think
There’s a time to give and receive comfort, to be content, to give and receive hope.
Yes, there is a time to celebrate. You made it Here.
However, when it’s time to leave what has become your Comfort Zone, you must get comfortable with being uncomfortable, again. When you hear the call to change and see the potential of getting better, it’s time to grow, and that’s uncomfortable.
Where would you like to get better?
What’s going on in your Story?
Where are you uncomfortable right now?
What must change for you to write the Story you want to tell?
How can I help you write that Story?
Alternatively, you can check-out the following:
- Resources for your Next Level Journey — my blog or my books, The Journey, The People Project or Leaders Create Space
- Explore my Leadership Coaching Programs
Here’s to intentional living and leading,
Transform disruption into clarity for life and work!