Comfort is tyranny.
Being comfortable provides needed respite from the irritants our fast paced, complex world endlessly throws our way. We need comfort. It feels good to have a warm house on a cold day. A favorite pair of shoes on a long walk. Money left over after paying the bills. Incremental business growth. Comfort allows us to breathe easy.
Comfort can also kill us.
Staying on that comfortable couch when we would benefit from the discomfort of the treadmill is one example. I read an interesting article in Harvard Business Review this week about the United States’ pursuit of mediocrity. (http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2011/10/america_excelling_at_mediocrit.html) While we are busy waving our flag reveling in the accomplishments of our past, the world is running past us.
Comfort is a seductress.
She lures you into a false sense of security. She makes false promises. If we invest in our 401K, we will have a comfortable retirement. If we relax lending standards to a comfortable level, everyone can own a home. If we follow a business plan that has historically produced returns, we will produce a comfortable rate of return for our stakeholders. If we keep our employees happy and content, they will do their jobs without disturbing our comfort.
She’ll use you, then abuse you.
What comfort doesn’t tell you is that you need DIScomfort if you want to keep her around. Discomfort is a call to action. It’s a reminder that comfort is temporary. Stick with it too long and it will flip on you and make you pay the price. It is easier to get off the couch when you are a few pounds overweight rather than thirty pounds. It’s easier to explore new business strategies when you are strong rather than wait for the crisis. Employees engage around exciting new possibilities and growth.
The only path to real comfort is to stay uncomfortable.
Being uncomfortable with the status quo triggers actions that help us address the future. Discomfort is the seed of great leadership. Great leaders are driven by what we could be. We all need moments of rest and deserve the comfort that comes from the satisfaction of our achievements. The only way to insure future comfort is to get off that proverbial couch before it becomes a way of life.