Is Your Comfort Zone Killing You?

Comfort zone: a familiar place or situation where you feel safe with no stress or anxiety. It seems like the happy place. It’s neither a good nor bad place.

When you make staying in your comfort zone a lifestyle rather than an occasional behavior, it becomes a form of addiction, a very bad habit.

Comfort zones kill.

Comfort zones kill creativity. It may sound like, “I’m not good at (fill in the blank).” It may look like being a spectator.

Comfort zones kill self-improvement. It may sound like, “ I don’t do (fill in the blank).” It may look like not going to the library, visiting someplace new, or taking a class.

Comfort zones kill one’s purpose or calling. It may sound like, “I’m too old.” It may look like sending a check instead of going, doing and being.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.
                                                                                                          – George Benard Shaw

Comfort zones kill “yes, and…” It may sound like, “Yes, but its so far go, it takes too much time and costs too much.” It looks like sending a present or gift card.

Comfort zones kill our wisdom. Comfort zones contribute to our implicit bias and revel in one’s privilege. It may sound like, “Homeless people are lazy and don’t want to work.” It may look like being around people who look like us.

Comfort zones kill social justice. It may sound like, “I don’t like being around homeless people.” It may look like working in a soup kitchen for an hour but not doing anything to put an end to homelessness.

Comfort zones kill self-examination. It may sound like, “I maybe mean, but you are meaner.” or “I don’t have a choice. I’m just doing my job.” It may look like not showing up to support a cohort, a friend or family member.

Comfort zones kill the ability to grieve properly. Life is unfair. No one is immune to being “dropped,” cheated, short-changed, disrespected, or even abused. It may sound like, “It’s God’s will.” It may look like suicide.

Comfort zones kill productivity. It may sound “I’m just too busy!” It may look like mindless viewing of social media, the internet or television.

Comfort zones kill graceful aging. It may sound like, “I need a facelift.” It may look like wearing a toupee or not getting needed hearing aids.

Comfort zones kill success. It may sound like, “We’re number one!” It may look like that abandoned Blockbuster store front or those old Kodak snapshots.

Comfort zones kill love. It may sound like, “I’m afraid to meet someone new.” It looks like staying home in your pajamas all weekend.

Comfort zones kill uncertainty. It may sound like, “The Bible says so, therefore, it’s true.” It looks like finger-pointing and judgment.

The opposite of faith is certainty. – Anne Lamott

Comfort zones kill inclusiveness. It may sound like, “We need to build a wall.” It looks like a gated community.

The ugliest word in the English language … “exclusive.” – Rev. Sandy McConnell

Comfort zones kill our health and well-being. It may sound like, “I hate going to the gym.” It looks like having a second doughnut.

Comfort zones killed the Jews during the Holocaust. It may have sounded like, “They are a threat to our way of life.” It may have looked like looking the other way.

Comfort zones kill relationships. It may sound like, “You are a snowflake.” or “You are a deplorable.” It may look like eating alone or standing alone in a room.

Want to break out of your comfort zone? Get curious. Project yourself into the future. When confronted with something new, different, challenging, or uncomfortable, ask yourself:

                                 How will I feel if I don’t move forward?

                                 How will I feel if I do move forward?

                                 How will this help me grow?

                                 How will this make me a better version of myself?

                                 How will this impact the way I wish others to experience me?

                                 How will this build and nurture relationships?

Does a Leader Have to Like His or Her Followers?

No, a leader does not have to like his or her followers, although it helps.

BUT A LEADER MUST LOVE HIS OR HER FOLLOWERS! Love is a higher calling than like.

The second greatest commandment of the Christian faith is not ‘like thy neighbor as thyself,’ but “love thy neighbor as thyself.” As a leader, I am not called to like myself to lead others. I am called to love myself to lead others. “Liking” is about finding similarity, being conditional, and being involved. “Loving” is about promoting dissimilarity, being unconditional, and being committed. Go back and re-read the commandment substituting the word “neighbor” with the word “follower” and then again with the word “stranger.”

“Love is not a feeling, Mr. Burns. It’s an ability.”                                                                           – Peter Hedges, director. Dan In Real Life. Touchstone, 2007.

To like is a feeling. To love is an ability.

To like is about ego. To love is about humility.

To like may be selfish. To love is to be selfless.

To like is to be served. To love is to serve.

To like may feed one’s narcissism and pragmatism. To love feeds one’s soul and spirituality.

To like is to offer sympathy. To love is to give empathy and have the courage to encourage.

To like is to hide weaknesses and flaws. To love is to be vulnerable.

To like is to connect. To love is to interconnect and bond.

To like is to want to be with. To love is to recognize the need to be with.

To like is to tolerate and endure. To love is to empower.

To like is to be comfortable with who. To love is to be comfortable with purpose, vision and mission.

A leader loves his or her followers for the values, gifts, talents, and passions they bring to the team, the organization or the community. A leader has the ability to help followers feel needed by helping them understand their contribution to the purpose, vision and mission of the team, organization or community. That ability is rooted in solid emotional intelligence to transcend the dislike of peculiarities, annoyances, difference in beliefs or opinions and focus on the value the individual brings to the team, organization or community.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty for a leader is to see a follower who is suffering and being rejected by that follower. At that those times, it’s best to remember Will Bowen’s words, “Those who hurt are hurting.”

The greatest challenge of love is the willingness to sacrifice for others, to give your life for others. Great leaders on the battlefield lead others into battle and are willing and expecting to take the first hit. Great leaders also make sure, when it’s time to eat, their followers get fed before they do. If you are unwilling to sacrifice, you really don’t love and cannot truly lead others.

The follower, who loves his or her leader for the significance the leader makes in their life, team, organization or community, gets a role model.

“He who cannot be a good follower, cannot be a good leader.”  – Aristotle

Are you a leader who loves your followers? Are you a follower who loves your leader?