Mark Twain has often been attributed with the following or similar quote:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
And I believe it was Kanye West in Stronger who said, “N-n-now that that don’t kill me…Can only make me stronger”
Both quotes are about the concept of comfort zone and not becoming trapped in or defined by it. As we begin to draw the final curtain on 2011, take the upcoming holidays as an opportunity to take stock of your comfort zone. What are you doing to expand or escape it?
Are you a dentist on the fence about a new technology, material, or treatment modality? Sitting on the fence can be a comfortable place to be. You can tell the pesky rep, “Oh, yes, I’m still thinking about it.” You can tell yourself, “Oh, yes, I’m still thinking about it.” What is there to keep thinking about? Does it improve patient care? Is it neutral or positive to practice production? Will it enhance your enjoyment of practicing dentistry? If you can answer “Yes” (or better yet, “Oh, yes”), to these questions, then stop thinking and get off the fence. If you are unsure, then stop thinking and do something to learn more so you can be sure. Learning is the key to escaping your comfort zone. Take a course, join a study club, do something.
Or perhaps you’re a marketer looking at next year’s plan and realizing it looks startlingly like this year’s? It can be easy to fall into the pattern of doing things because “that’s what we usually do”. Take a risk. Look at your metrics from last year and roll the dice with something that has lots of room for improvement. I’m not advocating jeopardizing your core strategies. Rather, first look at what could really be working better and expand your comfort zone there. You may learn something that you can translate to improvement in performance of your core activities. Again, learning is the escape vehicle – the get away car from your comfort zone.
Personally I continue to wrestle with my own comfort zone and how to escape it. I feel I’m about to break through some comfort bonds, and I hope to write more about that journey of escape later. Until then, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences about what you are doing to escape your own comfort zone.
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