I was sitting in an examination room at my Doctor’s office recently, and a poster on the wall declared a truth about how the only way you can coast is if you’re rolling downhill. This poster struck me like a ton of bricks.
As a business advisor and executive development coach, I talk to people about their performance daily, and often they talk about how hard things are, and how stressful. I often encourage them to push forward and redouble their efforts, to get out of their comfort zone. I do this because the best learning and best accomplishments happen when we’re striving for personal and professional growth. I realized that day in the doctor’s office that the danger of comfort is the effect of coasting. I realized that if we’re not moving forward, we’re moving backward.
High-performance people have figured this out, obviously, and they continue to strive to get better. They realize whether they’re athletes, or they’re business leaders, that coasting just gives your competition an advantage. While you’re coasting, and slowing down, your competition is pedaling hard, and picking up speed, and gaining on you, or putting distance between themselves and you. As an added reward, they are becoming more fit, and stronger, as they get outside of their comfort zone. Meanwhile, the coasters are becoming complacent and getting weaker in comparison.
There is a time to coast, for sure. Every one of us needs to follow the advice of Stephen R. Covey and sharpen our saw from time to time by coasting and recharging our batteries with a day off or a well-deserved vacation (especially during these beautiful summer months!). When the day off or the vacation is over, then it is time to rejoin the battle and to get back on the learning curve and back in the weight room. High performers know that it is hard work that makes us stronger and better. The path to great achievement is paved with many sacrifices like a night in the library, a day on the road with the sales team, or a weekend working on the annual strategic planning retreat. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Get comfortable making an effort to learn new things and to do things that are well outside of your personal comfort zone. That is how we become great.
Michael is an Executive Development Coach and a Business Advisor in Prior Lake, Minnesota. He works with CEOs, their Executive Teams, and their Emerging Leaders to build a strong, healthy culture in winning organizations, and helps business leaders to gain strength by getting out of their comfort zones and delivering ambitious results. Michael enjoys speaking to public groups about business best practices, from leadership to culture, to strategic planning excellence. If you’d like Michael to speak to your industry trade association or your company, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.