By Michael Gunther
When was the last time you ventured out of your comfort zone? When did you push yourself or your organization to try something new outside of your current capabilities or knowledge to force you or them to develop new skills or create a new modus operandi? Fear of the unknown is a huge deterrent and traps people from progressing. I would challenge you to use this fear as your indicator that it’s time to stretch yourself and take a leap of faith.
In the words of Mark Twain, “A stagnated mind dies. In life you are either moving forward or backward. Nothing stays the same.” This means that if you’re not moving forward, others around you are. Eventually, you’re actually sliding backwards and losing relevance to your customers and your organization.
To assist with this process, I created The 4 P’s of Successful Change: Planning, Participation, Perseverance, and Patience.
Before you take that leap, spend some time planning your course. What is it that you want to change? What are the intended outcomes? How do you plan to outline the process? What other resources or individuals should you include in this process? Answering these basic questions will lighten that fear of the unknown and add some direction to your new goal.
It’s important to include others in your process of change. You might meet people who have the skill or knowledge you seek. It’s also proven that when you declare your goals to others, there’s a greater chance of accomplishing them. By sharing with your co-workers, customers and friends, they’ll routinely ask about your progress and create a greater sense of accountability.
Change requires clear direction, but also the flexibility to amend your course to the ever-changing environment. True lasting change takes time. Be committed to your long-term goals and dedicated to the path you create with the ability to be flexible along the way.
Even positive change adds stress. Venturing outside of your comfort zone isn’t easy. So I ask you to have patience with yourself and your team as everyone tries new approaches and programs. I’m sure you’ll make mistakes along the way, but that’s how individuals and organizations learn and grow.
Organizations and individuals must always learn and grow. If not, they will suffer a slow death of outdated products, services, skills or processes. I encourage you to identify the areas where you believe you are in a ‘comfort zone’ and begin developing a plan to push yourself and your organization to the next level of knowledge and achieve your next breakthrough opportunity.