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The road to ruin circles your comfort zone.

For the first time in her life, she walked away from the security of a real job to start her own competing business. At first it was difficult for Mary, especially adjusting to the lack of the structure imposed by others each work day, but she had made a commitment and was sticking to her plan. About six months into this new venture Mary hit her stride, or as she put it “I’ve found my rhythm.”

We experience a different rhythm when we move outside of our comfort zone. Like a talented music group that is learning a brand new song, the first attempts at harmony will be awkward and sound quite awful. If someone happened to walk by and hear this struggling rehearsal they might be hesitant to show up at their next concert. But if the band has a deep desire for perfection they will in time hit the new beat, find the right tempo and the crowd will cheer.

You may not be a musician who is on a steep learning curve or a closet entrepreneur antsy to jump ship, but as a manager in the world of work today if you aren’t pushing yourself outside your comfortable rhythm by doing something that creates value like: taking on a risky project, pushing cutting edge technology, proposing a new performance improvement process or reaching out to build your network stronger, you may soon find yourself in a new position, standing hat- in-hand totally prepared for a world that no longer exists. The good and bad news is that you move out of your old comfort zone, either your way or their way. The former has some benefits worth considering.

A year or so after Mary walked away from the big safe company, it was acquired and dismantled and very quickly in disarray. Many of the company’s customers felt abandoned and called Mary. She had her rhythm. Her new clients are singing her praises today.

The road to riches runs outside your comfort zone. Seek a new rhythm. Find a new life. Hear the applause.

Working Journal Entry: Imagine there are 3 concentric circles around you. Each circle represents your: comfort zone (center), fear zone (next) and terror zone (outside). What things/activities/events/actions would you put in each of your circles? Do you see something you want to add to your Life and Leadership Plan this Winter Season of 2008?

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