Thursday, April 28, 2011

Comfort Zones

Like many things in life, it all started in college. One year I simply pushed too hard to keep up with my classes and homework, and thus ended up running on fumes for way too long. The result? I got mononucleosis or simply “mono.”

At the time, this viral infection was causing me to have a constant headache, sore throat, swollen glands plus overall exhaustion and fatigue. I could barely stay focused in or out of class. Finally, not knowing what to do, I went to the college infirmary. There I was diagnosed with mono and told to spend some days sleeping in the infirmary until I was rested and no longer contagious.

I do remember on the first afternoon of my stay in the infirmary an older doctor came in to check on me. He told me I had the “kissing disease” and asked if I knew how I had gotten it. Being a cheeky fellow at the time, I wanted to reach out and knock three times on his forehead. “Hello,” I wanted to say. “It is the mid-70’s and I am a young male in a four year liberal arts college in the midwest. Do you think kissing had anything to do with it?” But instead, I mumbled something about over doing it. That night they brought me a dinner tray from the school cafeteria with soup and crackers.

The following morning they bought me a breakfast tray with more soup and crackers. Midmorning, they brought me a can of 7-Up and more crackers. I can not remember much about the rest of my stay in the infirmary other than being brought crackers with everything. The result was that my bed was covered in cracker crumbs. I got up on numerous occasions to sweep out the cracker crumbs from between the sheets, and they still kept showing up. They were every where. A couple of days later, I left of the infirmary, vowing not to eat crackers in little packets ever again.

To this day, I am not a fan of crackers in little packets and I do not like eating breakfast or any other meal for that matter in bed. When I am really sick, which is a rare occasion, I still want to eat at a table. No crumbs in bed for me.

As I move through this spring, I am convinced that more and more people have comfort zones and default to them when confronted with change. I also am convinced that more and more people have discomfort zones and that they will do anything they can to avoid these difficult places. Like me with crackers in little packets and eating a meal in bed, we avoid these places, and as a result, at times deny ourselves the opportunity to learn or do something new or different.

This spring I encourage you to identify your own comfort and discomfort zones. I also encourage you to learn the same information them about those with whom you work with on a regular basis. This will help you be a better leader when change happens.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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