When you think about it, for most of us, the pursuit of comfort is almost an obsession. We search for comfortable shoes, comfortable clothes, a comfortable house, a comfortable chair, and the list goes on and on. But strangely enough, not everything is supposed to feel comfortable.
For instance, a golf swing is actually not supposed to feel comfortable. It’s a series of twists, turns, and moves that are somewhat unnatural. A golf pro once told me that the more comfortable the swing becomes, the less likely that you’re swinging the club properly. I suppose he may be right. In the rare instances I’ve played well, I did notice that the moment the swing actually felt “comfortable,” my game quickly deteriorated. This theory doesn’t just play out in golf; it pertains to business as well.
It may just be another case of instinct versus logic. It is certainly instinctive to want to create a comfortable position in business, but it clearly isn’t logical. Years ago, I happened to be working with Toyota and admiring that year’s Camry, which was voted “Car of the Year.” When I asked them about what small bell or whistle they would be adding to next year’s model, I was surprised to hear that the car was going through a complete remake. It turns out that it takes a while to completely change a car, and clearly Toyota knew what they were doing. The following year three of the top selling cars that competed against Toyota looked just like a Camry. The only car that didn’t look like a Camry was the new Camry, which was, once again, voted, “Car of the Year.” Clearly Toyota was not subscribing to the “pursuit of comfort” theory.
Having run a business for over 25 years, I find myself looking back at the things I did right, and the things I wish I had done better. With almost every single item that fell into the “wish I had done better” category, there was a level of success that had come my way. My instinct had been to not only get comfortable with it, but to also assume that success and comfort would last forever.
On the other hand, I noticed something about most of the items that fell into the “things I did right” category. In each case, I had pushed against the instinct to remain comfortable, and I had tried to improve upon what was already bringing me success.
What wrong with a little discomfort? What’s wrong with some butterflies in our bellies? I always told my kids the same thing that was told to me: “When you feel butterflies, you’re growing.” Author Neale Donald Walsch also said something that supports that same idea:
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Here’s to making things, well, a little less comfortable!