The word ‘life’ in the title of this blog refers to a victorious and prosperous way of living. It includes all areas of life – and is also known as ‘success’. I would like to wish my dear friends, suppliers, customers and my great seminar participants this kind of life over the coming year. I would not be a good teacher if I were not eager to explain what the process of successful living is all about. To simply describe being successful as being lucky would not be truthful and does not resemble our daily experiences. I assume that this kind of high-quality life is achieved through an organic process, resembling a rather natural and comprehensible development by means of personal growth.

According to the above title and well-known slogan, a plentiful life will start at the point where we come to the end of our comfort zone. Why would breaking out of our comfort zone make us more successful and what is our comfort zone really like? It may be the place where we personally feel most at ease, where things are familiar and we enjoy positive experiences that are free from conflict and bothersome interruptions. Our comfort zone is the spot where we feel safe because there is little chance that unpredictable things will happen to us. We all want and need this kind of place in order to recuperate from a busy work life and so there is nothing wrong with building such a zone into our lives. However, our comfort zone is probably not the place where we find ultimate fulfilment.

In being willing to leave our comfort zone, we consciously decide to encounter things, situations and people that we are unaccustomed to. We are prepared to try unknown things, in sometimes unusual situations. We take calculated risks and work more with alternatives, instead of just improvements to the known formula. Einstein provided us with a humorous warning when he described as ‘insane’ those people who try to do the same things over and over again with the expectation of different or better results.

One of the keys to success therefore could be to start to think and do things in different and new ways in order to leave this guarded, safe niche. We might also need to make more difficult decisions instead of looking for quick and easy solutions and avoiding conflict. Achieving success could even include being willing to give up a state of momentary satisfaction, leaving behind an easy and undisturbed life for some challenging new goals which could give us the true and long-lasting fulfilment we long for.

When leaving our comfort zone is not our preferred option, ineffective shortcuts and tricks might seem tempting

While coaching leaders over the last few years and reflecting on some situations in my own life, it has become clear to me that the overall experience of leaving our comfort zone instead of using ineffective shortcuts and easy tricks depends on a matter of character. We can indeed choose for a more sustainable and progressive form of personal development in a process of natural growth. Wherever you go, you will always take this kind of personal ‘favour’ with you and be less vulnerable in difficult circumstances. As the late Stephen R. Covey used to say, ‘Carry your own weather wherever you go’.

For a true leader to enjoy a good business life and be successful, it is not a matter of good fortune. Success is the result of making sound decisions even under pressure, as well as creating the right conditions and safe environment for our employees to think and be able to do the same. It is in these tough moments and environments that we really give up our good old comfort zone and decide to pursue a much better life.

Rob G. M. Bots
Senior Management Trainer and Coach

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