Are you James Bond, “pushing the envelope experienced,” or are you “comfort zone experienced”? You know the action movie plot lines. There are experienced, armed guards protecting an experimental jet. They’re in their safe and comfortable zone, lulled into walking around the tarmac with their dogs and machine guns, just doing their jobs. They’re so experienced they feel very comfortable strolling through daily guard duty like they’re mowing their yard on a Saturday morning.
As a matter of fact, they’re so entrenched in their comfort zone that they never see Bond sneaking up behind them. He’s got his cutting edge technology clenched between his teeth and he’s taking nothing for granted. He does nothing routine or predictable. He doesn’t rest on his past experience, he draws on it. He finds new ways to break in, kill the guards, blow up the base, steal the jet and look ultra cool doing it.
You can be experienced and feel safe in your experience, but still be very vulnerable. Or you can be experienced and realize that the more you learn, the less you know, so you’re always striving to learn more, not do less. You see both disaster and opportunity coming because you’re looking out for them.
Experience is supposed to equip us and motivate us to do more things better, not scare us into doing fewer things safer! Feeling safe feels good, but it can be deadly. Being in “your comfort zone” is the kind of experience that can shut down your business fast. Here are five ways “comfort zone” experience stops success cold:
1. Experienced Employees – You hire them because they’re experienced, only to learn that they come with their own way of doing things. They’re less likely to follow your explicit directions, because “they know better,” even if what they know is wrong for how you want things done. They like their “experienced expert” comfort zone. And if your business can’t be cookie cutter simple, or you can’t stand over them every minute of every job, you can’t be successful with this kind of experience.
2. Your Experience – Admit it. We’re all jaded by what has worked in the past. We feel “safe” knowing that if it worked once, it’s probably going to work again. This is the old, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” kind of comfort zone experience. The more experience we have with our past success, the less likely we are to try something new and risk failure. We become so comfortable with our old worn, broken in shoes, we ignore the new high tech sneakers we’re offered, and success passes us by.
3. Your Clients Experience – The more experience your clients or customers have with other vendors, the more likely their expectations for you are going to get more and more specific. You may be great, but if you are different, you become a problem. Why? Change and “being different,” doesn’t feel safe. Clients have a routine they like, that works, that feels safe, and they want to stick with it. Who can blame them eh? Except that’s the kind of experience that can stop their business cold.
4. Your Partners Experience – partnership in business is like a marriage. Yet, if your business partner had past partners, they might not enter the relationship fresh and open to new possibilities. They may work with you like they did their old partner, doing what’s safe because they don’t want to blow the new relationship. If this happens, your natural talents might get squashed because your partner is clinging to what worked in the past.
5. Other Vendors Experience – If they worked with other vendors in the past they may have expectations that are wrong or different. They don’t know any better. It’s like taking a kid who’s only been to the artificial beach at the local water park and telling them about the ocean. They’re reluctant to believe anything could be better than what they already know. Why? The devil you know always feels safer than the devil you haven’t met yet.
Are you feeling safe and secure in your experience, or challenged by it?