by ADL Associate Lee J. Colan
Success naturally makes us comfortable. We want to enjoy our success, so we tend to slow down...just a little. We let our focus slip…just a little. We play it safe…just a little.
It might be hard to see this in ourselves, but it’s easy to see in the world of sports. How many times have we seen teams lose their momentum and then lose the game because, instead of playing to win, they were playing not to lose? They get ahead, but then pull back and stop playing with the intensity that earned them the lead. For those of us who are Dallas Mavericks basketball fans, we are all too familiar with these momentum swings.
The same temptation traps leaders. As we exceed expectations and hit our targets, our team might feel like they are cruising for their best year ever. Then, all of a sudden, the focus shifts from gaining momentum to sustaining momentum, from winning to avoiding a loss. The moment leaders change focus, momentum vanishes. Most teams just can’t seem to “run up the score” on their opponents.
The challenge is that we are all hardwired for comfort. For my entire career, I’ve helped organizations and individuals manage changes and step outside their comfort zones. However, last year, I received a letter from my bank informing me that I would no longer be able to pay my bill via telephone and would have to move to online banking. Well, I resisted that change more than all my toughest clients combined!
I knew what was going on, but my hardwiring kicked in. Of course, like most changes, my resistance was disproportionate to the degree of required change. As it turned out, the new online system was a huge improvement over the old way I was clinging to. Isn’t that the way it is with most changes we finally make?
In business, the cost of not changing has much bigger implications than simply not switching from a touchtone pad to a mouse click. The stakes are high. Leaders who “grasp the past” are quickly left right there – in the past. Leaders who seize the moment to change are catapulted into a brighter future.
Here are a few steps we can take to convert distressing moments of change into defining moments of change.
First, find delight in your own discomfort.
The way to keep your momentum is to seek discomfort. This does not mean you are never satisfied with yourself or others. Rather, it provides a healthy alertness of where you can improve. By delighting in this state of discomfort, you will be more relaxed and more likely to see creative ways to improve. In other words, it will help you stay on the offensive and thrive versus playing defensively and merely surviving. By capturing this mental state of delighting in discomfort, you will easily be able to evacuate your comfort zones.
If we do not change, we limit our lives and our leadership. Leaders who learn to delight in discomfort say, “If you’re always changing, it never feels like you’re really changing.” In other words, we become comfortable with change.
Second, when you feel like you are cruising to victory, take a look around.
But don’t look only at your opponents. Look for anyone, any team, that is the very best at what they do. Compare yourself to them. What are they doing that makes them bigger, faster, better, smarter than you? Excellent leaders are never satisfied, never complacent.
It’s easy to look at those we are beating and feel pretty good about ourselves. Looking at those whom we can learn from, those who might have a better “game” than we do, keeps us humble and focused on improving our own game.
Third, lead beyond the status quo – always focus on the next level.
Here is an “acid test” to determine if we are leading for the status quo or the next level: If you can achieve your goals doing “business as usual,” then your goals are not big enough, and you won’t get to the next level. Your goals should force changes, require tough decisions and inspire bold actions.
The next time you are feeling comfortable, enjoy the moment – but just for a moment. Then, seize the very next moment to change!
To learn how to bring
Lee J. Colan
into your company, contact
ADL Associates at (972)
899-3411 or email email@example.com.
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