Posted: May 13, 2013
Three great ways to go beyond your comfort zone
How successful companies stay relevant and compelling to their audiencesLida Citroën
If your company has experienced a surge in growth or is coming out of a business challenge, I often recommend to clients that they consider pushing beyond the comfort zone and complacency that inevitably sets in and find a renewed energy (even challenge). In challenge, we learn and create beyond anything we could imagine in times of complacency or success.
Find new ways to connect to customers, explore more creative vehicles to promote the brand, change up the communication flow internally (to drive better dialogue with stakeholders) and get in touch with the true vision of the business.
Here are three ways to kick your business outside the comfort zone:
1. Ask why not what: Creative problem solving
When something is going well, or we encounter a roadblock, we often look to understand the logistics of what happened rather than the intention or the narrative behind why it happened. Seeking deeper understanding from your staff, your customers, or your external influencers can generate a new level of problem solving and ideation. Look to understand their motivation and intention, not just the effects of their behavior. While motivation and intention are often difficult to dissect, the “why” question can be revealed fastest by asking directly.
Perhaps you have someone in your organization right now who could lend insight into a challenge or problem you are dealing with? Maybe it is not someone on the team or project directly but who resides in another part of the company? Opening the channels of communications to invite participation and insight from cross functional teams builds employee morale, stimulates innovation and can create a more streamlined decision making process if done from a place of authenticity of the business leaders (as opposed to an exercise that leads to a frustrating dead end for the participants).
2. Open a vein: Build intimacy
Regardless of how well you believe to know your customers, your motivations for doing business with them and your company’s mission/vision statements, there is always room to grow closer and more intimate with those you serve. Personally, I experienced a great shift in my own comfort zone and vision recently. Many of you read about my Gratitude Project (http://unleashingyourbrand.com/my-gratitude-project/) on my blog. This experience taught me many valuable personal and professional lessons, most notably that I need to share more of the “why” behind my work, get closer and listen better to my audiences in order to trust them (and myself!). I learned first hand how much the people in my life have to teach me about my vision, brand and goals. Opening my head and my heart to listen took courage, but what I received in return was invaluable.
Are you willing and able to explore deeper intimacy with those around you? Your employees, customers, board members, stakeholders and community can share great insight into your confidence, product positioning and long term viability if asked.
3. Put gas on an ember: Fuel entrepreneurship
Is someone sitting in a cubicle at your company with a great idea just waiting to be developed? Does your staff feel empowered to bring systems concepts and product refinement suggestions to their supervisors? When we ask for innovation and entrepreneurial mindset from our teams, we have to support them. Some of my clients across the globe are setting up incubators to foster and develop new business models and products from their staff (often supporting these ideas with resources and funding). Others are investing in their community to teach and grow entrepreneurial leadership with the goal being to bring those ideas back to a stagnant corporate culture or community that needs to grow to stay viable and relevant.
Entrepreneurship is as much a thing as it is an attitude. Being able to adapt, flex and innovate are key to growing an organization in good times and bad. Maybe it’s time to see if there is a budding entrepreneur within your businesses’ walls who just needs to be fueled and encouraged?
Our comfort zone is where we feel safe, familiar and stable. We feel good in our comfort zone. Putting up boundaries enables us to accept the parameters of possibility and navigate inside them. However, when we can become comfortable in the anxiety and uncertainty of innovation, vulnerability and entrepreneurial behaviors, we can often find creativity and passion that we never knew existed!
Lida Citroën is the author of Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition and Principal of LIDA360, a consulting firm that helps create effective market positioning through the use of brand strategies. She regularly presents at conferences, events and programs, teaching transitioning veterans how to understand their unique value and market them to future employers.
Citroën is an active member of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and works closely with General Peter Pace’s program in Philadelphia, Wall Street Warfighters Foundation (WSWF). For more information, please visit, www.yournextmissionbook.com and connect with her on twitter, @LIDA360.