“In the Next Level Journey, you will navigate three zones,” I tease the front-line managers. “Today, we’ll identify them and see where you are on the Journey.”
“Everyone has lived, will live, or is living in the City of Stuckville, also known as your Comfort Zone. What’s it like to live there? You feel unchallenged and the status quo is accepted. Residents are living below their potential. When the urge to break-out rises, Fear stands at the gate like a snarling German Shepherd daring you to go for it.”
“Once you gain courage and summon the faith to believe that getting better is possible, you push past the guard dog and step into your Safety Zone. With the invitation to leave Stuckville comes the call to change. In the Safety Zone, you see the risk, but go for it.”
“With movement, you gain momentum and traction. Answering the call to change you discover the path to get better. You’ve arrived in your Growth Zone. Now, you exercise your ability and willingness to learn and change.”
“Seeing the opportunity to grow, you take responsibility to write the next chapter of your story.”
I pressed further. “Look around the room, see the people. Everybody has a story — everyone. The Story connects us and allows us to create something unique.”
To create is to cause something to exist. As people, we have the ability or power to create, to bring something into existence, what a thought.
Perhaps the opportunity to create is at the heart of leadership. Driven by a vision, leaders work to build something better.
While reading an old letter from Paul to the Galatians, I identified three steps that will help you live creatively as a leader. Today, we explore step two: Commit to living in the growth zone.
STEP ONE: CONNECT WITH PEOPLE
To read about Step One, go here.
For a brief review, remember the business of business is people. That being true, life and business, can be messy.
Speaking of messy, Nancy Koehn quotes David Foster Wallace’s definition of leaders as “Individuals who help us overcome our selfishness, weakness, and fears, and get us to do harder, better, more important work than we would do on our own.”
People are held prisoner in Stuckville due to selfishness, weakness, or fear, which contributes to workplace messiness.
To live creatively connect with people by doing the following:
- Practice forgiveness — the only person to suffer by refusing to release resentment is you.
- Extend compassion — knowing your people and being aware of a hard time in their life shows you care.
- Encourage — everybody wants to be appreciated. Engagement is improved as you celebrate progress and give support.
The business of business is people.
STEP TWO: Commit to living in the Growth Zone
As I pointed out, there are three zones — comfort, safety, and growth zones on the Next Level Journey. Growth only occurs when you are uncomfortable. There are three personal attributes that you must bring to your Growth Zone.
- Self-awareness— Your journey requires creating space to think about who you are (your character, motives, strengths, weaknesses, who you want to be, and what must change to get there.
- Purpose— Beyond profits and paychecks purpose fuels your adventure as you focus on the opportunity to lead and opens the door to greater fulfillment.
- Responsibility— Living with the freedom to own your role in the Story.
You know that growth does not happen in the Comfort Zone. Growth as an individual, a team, or an organization only occurs when you get uncomfortable.
CREATE SPACE TO THINK
To live creatively you must connect with people and commit to living in the growth zone.
As David Viscott writes, “The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” You are a gift from God to this world. Live creatively.
Reflect on the Story using these short questions to dig deeper.
- How are you showing up in life, where do you need to change?
- Why do you go to work and do what you do? How fulfilled are you at this time? What are you uniquely qualified to bring to the world?
- How well are you taking responsibility for your role in the Story?
Leadership is how you influence others to make this world a better place.
Celebrating you for caring about others,