Every organization goes through what is known as ‘the comfort zone’. Everyday, we are in a rush to achieve goals and set targets accordingly. And what happens when we reach this target? We hit a plateau of relaxation. The state where nothing gives results inspite of the fact that we are doing everything perfectly.
The end result is usually frustration, which is followed by an inner voice that tells you that you have reached your limits and that it’s time to slow down now. “Why take additional headaches?” is what you will start thinking, and sooner or later, a negative spiral begins. In the end, the result will be disappointment.
Over the past 8 years at Bobcares, I have seen many such instances happen to both clients and engineers alike. We direct our abilities to a certain level, and when we feel that we have reached that level, life tends to become dull and everything seems like a routine. Eventually, a deterioration phase begins.
Every individual goes through 4 main phases in their lives.
As a beginner, we are like children. Everything that happens around us looks and sounds incredible. We are puzzled, scared, lonely, and feel our nerves and hearts pounding everytime we see something new. At this stage, we believe and accept anything that we are taught and follow instructions obediently. The skills or mannerisms we acquire here are the foundations that make each of us, individually different.
We then move on to the stage of a student where we devote our time and energy to learn everything that will enable us to chart out the career we chose. I have seen this happen to the engineers who become developers or focus on being linux or windows experts. Everyday, they learn something new which makes them happy and satisfied. For them it’s all new, and every appreciation the client gives them is worth every moment they spent to help the client.
We then reach the expert level. We sit, research and try to find more intricate methods to do things, automate and constantly get consulted by others during difficulties. We all love this stage because we feel wanted. This phase show the results of our efforts. We can also authoritatively speak or talk about what we have learned.
This is also the toughest phase for any individual because the following question arises, “What’s next?”. If you ever try to answer this, you will find a chasm of doubts in your mind. You will start comparing your life with your peers and then the relaxation sets in.
During this stage, most individuals have the problem called lack of a self drive. They still expect instructions to be given from the top for reaching higher destinations. It is at this stage that the self drive is primarily important.
Let us take an example. Imagine a person who is taking driving lessons for the first time. Initially, his enthusiasm and concentration level will be very high. He spends hours behind the wheel. As he moves on to the level of an expert, he gets deluded by a feeling of self confidence. He starts driving with a mobile in one hand and a bottle of coke in the other hand. If you give him a straight road, he will relax even more till he ends up doing a mistake or road rage. It ultimately causes a lot of damage to everyone.
Similarly any employee who reaches the expert’s level needs to understand that a straight road lies ahead which needs all the focus a person can have to prevent lethargy and erratic actions from stepping in. The sensible always have an inherent calling within them that gives them a wake up call, when things go too easy and relaxed. It keeps them on track while the rest flounder on sillier matters lying along the way.
This is the toughest phase of a person because life seems easy and everything looks achievable. If a person takes things for granted, he will fail miserably. This person is similar to the hare which relaxed during the race, while the persistent and clever tortoise emerged as the winner.
The teachers’ phase is when you reach a stage of enlightenment. At this stage, you start using more of your experiences and energy to teach what you have learnt, and you are calmer. It inspires and evokes within you, the desire to help others without expecting returns. In the process, you create innovations and challenges that actually grow the organization to higher levels. It is tough because the choices that need to be made are always between trying to solve an immediate problem temporarily or looking at a long term picture. Being a teacher also makes you take hard decisions more often. Choices will seem and sound heartless to some. It is when you become a teacher that you once again get out of the complacent phase. You constantly try to create things that improve or innovate.
Every organization needs more teachers because growth can happen only when good teachers are created. But for becoming teachers, the people involved need to have the strength to pass the expert phase. It is during this phase that the men get separated from the boys.
Being in the comfort zone is a good thing for a short while. It is essential to recharge yourself, reset your goals and energize others in addition to recollecting and analyzing the past events. However if it extends too long, it creates a negative energy and this is something we need to be wary of always; whether we are a customer, a service provider, an owner or an employee.
About the Author:
As a Member of Executive Group, Lijoe Antony Chakiath oversees Information Security aspects at Bobcares including ISO 27001:2005. He also manages Mergers and Acquisitions interests of Poornam. Lijoe has over 7 years experience in the Web hosting industry and with Bobcares. He is passionate about travelling and long drives.