Working Strategic and the Role of Comfort
Hi, I couldn’t help but post another blog on the relationship between
comfort and working strategic, given some of the interactions I was
involved in as I worked with multiple organizations this week.
Here’s a couple of thoughts on the role of comfort and how it
interfaces with our success at working strategically… which in turn often
effects our relative level of success… and ultimately how pervasive
comfort is in influencing our decisions and expectations.
One of my working definitions of comfort at the job is the following:
Comfort equals not being subjected to challenge.
Challenges get represented in all sorts of ways, both externally and internally.
We may bristle or become accommodating when we get challenged externally,
but one thing is for sure, we don’t experience the process as comfortable.
Whether the external challenge is poor results, or disagreement, disapproval
or resistance from a co-worker, or something else – it doesn’t feel good,
doesn’t feel comfortable.
Subjecting yourself to internal challenges, such as questioning your approach,
your process, your level of achievement and your basic assumptions is also
reported as an uncomfortable experience or feeling for most. Although I
have to confess I sort of like going there.
Here’s one of my primary observations for this blog:
Maintaining Comfort doesn’t support working Strategically.
In fact, when I observe in myself and others, the need to maintain comfort,
I notice it usually sets me off, consciously or unconsciously, working to
maintain what’s existing, what’s familiar.
Doing what’s most comfortable is not directly tied by validation to doing
what works best – another one of my definitions for working strategically.
But I notice we are all pretty good at rationalizing that there’s more of
a connection that truly exists.
Working strategically begins to look like regularly exploring the very things
that make us uncomfortable. Whether that’s setting stretch goals, rethinking
assumptions, challenging accepted inefficiencies, challenging people and their
approach, contribution… even membership on the team.
I notice sometimes that when I set goals or build a plan I get more
comfortable. It’s like starting something or purchasing something
makes me feel like I’m doing something about the objective. But
if I’m not careful, my increased comfort seems to displace the
needed work and activity of “getting on with it.”
I continue to be amazed at how much we invoke comfort, plan around
it, and generally avoid disturbing it in our selves and others while
trying to get work accomplished. We treat discomfort like a sleeping,
mean junkyard dog.
In our culture we over-emphasize comfort and as a result
pay the consequence, which in part is a lessening of our ability to
This is especially evident when you are intending to invoke some type of change, improve a performance process and/or deploy a performance management software like ManagePro.
If you want to work more strategically, if you want to work more effectively,
it is important to not give too much homage to comfort. To develop enough
skin to manage challenges, using them to further your progress… not retreat
in a search for that quasi equilibrium of comfort. If you had to look at the
trade-offs you made this week between comfort and working strategically,
which one won?