Generally being comfortable in your life, relationships and work implies that you are grounded in your environment, satisfied with your lot and confident about the outcomes of your actions. Strike work of this list. In the 21st century world of work, operating out of thickly padded comfy zone is a fleeting respite from the long-term fallouts of career mismanagement. I am bowled over at the number of employees from different occupations and lifestyles that are limiting their potential to the low ceilings of being comfortable. On the surface, they are well adjusted to the fickle company environment, appear content with their career, and succeed with zero risk actions.
Spend a month inside their life and you will recognise the famous boiling frog syndrome – instead of placing a frog into boiling water and have it instinctively leap out; place it in cold water that is steadily heated until it is cooked alive. Notwithstanding the dubious biological basis, the boiling frog syndrome sums up the predicament of employees. The water has been heating up for years due to the disconnect between their job and aspirations. They aimlessly drift in a stagnant schedule without putting their heart and soul into their vocation. They are conditioned around Sunday evening distress about the office, the Monday morning blues, the same small talk at the water cooler, predictable management behaviour about their gripes, keeping a low profile in the office, TGIF (Thank God its Friday) and waiting for annual leave.
A comfy zone is underpinned by the belief that it is safer to sail along with the mediocre flow than risk whitewater rafting. Ironically, the comfort ends up being the highest risk – you sacrifice the opportunities to discover what you want or worse, forfeit what you have always wanted in your career, for the security of a job that was never guaranteed by the organisation.
Breaking out of the mould is not for the faint hearted – it is a tough call that requires courage, consistency and persistence. But I haven’t met anyone that wanted to return for their old comfy zone after white water rafting.
(Star Workplace, November 2006)