This past weekend I spent 12 hours inside an old, broken down, smelly, middle school gymnasium watching my two kids play in a basketball tournament. My third grade, 9-year-old boy just started playing up with the fourth grade boys and my sixth grade, 11-year-old
daughter ended up playing with the eighth grade girls because they were short a few players. Going into any tournament, I have my typical pep talk with my kids on our way to the event, which even includes our own playlist of hard-driving motivational songs starting out with “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC. They love it. Anyway, this week was a little different.
They usually get a little nervous before games, but this time they were both playing with kids they didn’t know all that well, running plays that were new to them, taking them WAY outside their comfort zone. As a parent, you have to find that perfect mix of empathy – acknowledging that they would of course be nervous under the circumstances vs. “suck it up and lace up your shoes; you will be fine.”
This talk with them got me to thinking about my own comfort zone and where am I within it. In the past, I would look for any possible way to push myself into uncomfortable situations because I knew something good would come out of it. As I have aged, do I still look for ways to break out? Do you? Does our industry?
There are many things that we as an industry are comfortable with and the evidence of that is clear. For instance, here are just a few observations:
- Most of our leaders at the top companies have been in the industry for a long time, so we like to hire from within.
- Product, price, and promotion are still the main themes for most all retail advertising.
- ROP, direct mail, and television still get the lion’s share of our ad dollars.
- For the most part, we wait on someone to create a new approach that works and then everybody copies that lead.
So you might be saying to yourself right about now, “Yes, Quinn, but these things work well or we would not continue doing them!” I acknowledge that and am not here saying we need to stop doing what works. I am also not saying that our industry hasn’t pushed the envelope in the past. HOWEVER, what if we moved outside of our comfort zone even more and took aim at some crazy new ways to sell mattresses? Give thought to the following points.
- If you do consider something new that causes you a great deal of anxiety, that is where you are going to get the most growth. Never do this if your downside is so much that you can’t afford the loss if it doesn’t work, but if you do take some risk, the reward can be incredible.
- That uncertain feeling you get when you move outside of your bubble really stinks at first, but before you know it, you will be navigating that space like a pro if you have done your homework.
- Leaders push forward into the unknown, and followers get a view of the leader’s backside. First to market on a new idea pays big.
- When you are outside your comfort zone, did you put yourself there or were you pushed into it? You will find yourself there at some point, so make sure that you are the one that determines when and where your next battle will be fought.
- Remember that feeling when you did move outside your comfort zone and succeeded? Standing on top of that mountain after you have climbed it is a really great thing to do. There is no view like it, but you won’t ever see it if you don’t take the first step.
- Even if you fail, there is something great for you in the learning from that, which will give you big returns later on.
We played six games on Saturday, of which we only won one. My kids were all kinds of nervous during the opening minutes of that first game, but it didn’t take long for them to find their groove and find personal success. My coaching to them was simple…play your game, be confident, take calculated risk, and no matter what happens, you are going to be better when it is over. That is how you grow. That is how you tap into that undiscovered skill set, and that is how you get better. My kids were awesome that day and I have never been more proud of their performance on the court.
Now head on over to YouTube and listen to “Thunderstruck” as you read this blog and see if something doesn’t happen. At the very least you will have reacquainted yourself with an AC/DC classic.
I know we’re in the comfort business, but that doesn’t mean we should live in the comfort zone.
Where should you push your comfort zone? Where should the industry?