shrinking comfort zones: the quick path to nowhere

Your comfort zones are either expanding or shrinking – there isn’t any middle ground. Either you’re stepping across the line, challenging yourself, moving a bit into the unknown and pushing back the boundaries OR you’re backing away from the line. Each time you step back so that you can stay with the familiar and comfortable, the line draws in, so you have to step back again, and again it shrinks.

The world it is a changin’ (duh!). Jobs are moving off shore or going away or radically evolving. A sure ticket to failure is to stand still, refuse to change and insist (insist!) that the world not change either. Problem is, the world’s changing whether we like it or not. The jobs of tomorrow are not going to look like the jobs of today. Want to stay employed? Stay relevant. Challenge yourself. Learn. Grow. Push your boundaries. Take on challenges you wouldn’t normally take on.

The more we try to stay safe by not changing, the more at risk we are of being completely behind. My prediction is that anyone who isn’t focused on improving and developing new skills each and every year will soon be either underemployed or unemployed. BUT, I’m not necessarily referring to technology. Technology facilitates a lot of changes, but is becoming more and more user friendly (anyone remember punch cards?).

The biggest growth potential that I see needed is in change, communication, and relationship development. As an HR pro or manager or employee, can you have the tough conversations you need to have? Can you hold people accountable? Can you influence people who don’t report to you? Can you use technology to enhance your communication instead of complicating it? Can you develop the trust and relationships that will enable you to get twice as much done with half the angst? Or do you leave it up to other people who are “better at it.”?

You’re either moving forward or falling behind in direct relationship to the rate you are pushing your comfort zone. Avoiding the difficult or unpleasant parts of the job – often the parts that involve other people – is a fast track to irrelevance.

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