Last night my wife and I were sitting out on our back porch (we live in Florida, so that’s possible in February). Linda had turned on the yard lights to get a better view of the critters who might be scurrying about.
Not up on typical yard critter behavior, I asked, “aren’t they going to be scared of the light and not come in the yard now?”
“They aren’t scared of the light”, she said. “They are scared of the change when the light comes on. Once they are used to the light, they’ll come in.”
Think of something that you haven’t achieved or done yet that you are afraid of. Could be anything… skydiving, starting a new job or taking dancing lessons. You harbor some sort of apprehension about that action, which stands in the way of you actually doing it.
But what are you more afraid of… the action, or the change you will have to go through to make the action happen?
If we don’t change, or try new things, we get to stay safely inside of our own comfort zone. Don’t be fooled, it’s called a comfort zone for a reason – it’s nice in there and people don’t want to give up that feeling of security. This is why people resist change. It’s not that they are afraid of learning to dance, they are afraid of leaving their non-dancing comfort zone.
What about your employees? What are they afraid of? If they are typical teenagers and young adults, two of the biggest no-no’s are looking stupid in front of your friends and not fitting in. The behaviors you see displayed because of this could lead you to think they are lazy or they don’t care, but I would imagine it’s more about social survival and not getting out of their “need to be accepted” comfort zone.
And it’s not just the “kids”. We ALL do things that avoid us having to abandon our comfort zones (because we all need to be accepted). The trick is to find a way to make the uncomfortable, comfortable.
For leaders, we have to do this twice. Once for us and our fears, and once for our employees. Our job is to remove the fears our employees have about not coming out of their comfort zone. In other words, we need to help them expand their comfort zone to include the things they were hired to do, to make all these new and unfamiliar (and uncomfortable) tasks, comfortable.
Repetition and success are two of the best ways I know to help people get “used to” a new situation. It works for the critters in our back yard, it can work for you and your employees, too.
Thanks for reading!
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