05 Dec Out of Alignment or Out of Your Comfort Zone?
As leaders, we constantly need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone.
It is how we grow and move forward. We also need to lead from a grounded place rooted in our values. So how do we know when we are leading out of alignment of those values vs. being out of our comfort zone?
On a recent trip through Vermont, I had the chance to meet up with a friend and colleague, Julie Boyer and we talked about some of our struggles in business. As we got on the topic of business development, each of us shared how we grow the different aspects of our company. The conversation slowed when we got our respective publishers and what they were asking us to do. After a few minutes, we both started to develop a headache. It was interesting because both of us had a visceral physical reaction to the stepwise approach the publishers were giving us to grow the business. Why is that? The business advice was good, and we could both see how it helps the business grow. What was wrong with it?
There was something off with all of this. Something didn't feel right. My core values as a person and a business are similar and I realized it was out of alignment with those values. Connection and authenticity in both my personal and business relationships is high on my list.
It’s why I choose to work closely with a small number of clients in order to develop that connection and trust. What was so wrong for me with the publisher’s advice? It was too mass market and felt somewhat manipulative in the approach. That’s what was causing the physical reaction.
What about being out of our comfort zone? Some of us have visceral physical reactions when we are pushed out of our comfort zone. Think about people you know that have a fear of public speaking and the physical reactions they go through before an event. There are others that dread giving constructive feedback to their employees and feel sick to their stomach the night before the meeting. The act of doing these things is uncomfortable but it is not stepping on our values.
On that Vermont trip, I rode the motorcycle through route 17 which connects highway 116 to the 100. It’s a mountain pass with plenty of hairpin turns and steep inclines. As I leaned into the curves with the motorcycle, I was out of my comfort zone. The turns are sharp, and your line of sight is limited with trees and rocks. It feels uncomfortable and I was nervous. The motorcycle is made for this with grippy tires, wide handlebars and ground clearance. I was not asking the motorcycle to do something it was not designed to do. I was only pushing myself into an uncomfortable situation where I needed to trust the bike and my riding skill to get me through safely. All of those things are in alignment with the motorcycle and me.
As I write this, I am reminded of my own comfort zone. Sitting on my desk next to me is a list of contacts that I need to call.
As part of my expansion into the US pharmaceutical market, I am doing things that I’m not used to doing. I feel uncomfortable moments before I pick up the phone to call a contact. My stomach turns as I dread the thought of wasting their time. Interesting that after 30 seconds on the call, the anxiety goes away. I forget about trying to sell something and instead focus on catching up with them and reestablishing our connection. What’s the end result of reconnecting with people? I feel energized and motivated to continue. Best of all, no headache in sight.