Rachel Nies / August 6th, 2019
Getting out of your comfort zone is never easy, particularly in business and especially if you’re not a natural risk-taker.
Personally, I like my comfort zone. (Really, who doesn’t?)
Comfort zones mean everything sits neatly in its expected spot. There are no unsightly bumps in the road, no unexpected waves to rock the boat, just the sweet solace of a beautifully executed, predictable routine.
My husband, Jeremy, on the other hand, embraces risk way more quickly than I do. In fact, he told me when we got married that his last words would probably be “Watch this!” (Here he is in his kayak.)
But as much as I might think he’s crazy at times, I get it. He understands what author and professor John A. Shedd meant when he wrote,
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.”
While that predictable comfort zone might give the illusion that things will always remain the same, the truth is that even if we’re not changing, the world around us still is. I mean, think for a minute at how different printing looks today. Can you imagine how shocked Gutenberg would be if he saw what he had unleashed?
All growth, change, and innovation requires some level of risk. Just as the printing industry before you didn’t get to where it is today by holding tightly to comfort zones, you won’t get to where you want to be with your print business without learning to embrace some risks.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you get there.
There’s no rule in risk-taking that says you must immediately go all-in.
You’re allowed to start small, to take one risk at a time, and go at your own pace. Think of it this way: whether you risk the cold water of the pool by jumping in the deep end right away or by meandering down the poolside steps one cold inch after one cold inch, you’re still in the water.
Give yourself permission to accept risk on your terms.
If you put all of your eggs (risk) in one basket, you have a lot more to lose.
The solution? Diversify.
The more opportunities you give your print company for success, the better off you’ll be. If you want to increase your lead generation, for example, it wouldn’t be wise to rely entirely on the content on your website to bring them in. Instead, create more opportunities through things like social media marketing, direct mail marketing, email, and more.
One of the biggest hang-ups with taking risks is the fear that you can’t execute your desired outcome perfectly.
But that’s ok.
Would you rather be an imperfect business that’s growing, or a stagnant, soon-to-be-out-of-business print company watching the world pass you by? The answer is pretty clear.
Go ahead and set your sights on your risky target, but get comfortable with the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know. Each imperfection, each misstep will be your valuable, real-time training of how to get you closer on target with the next step.
Risks are meant to be calculated.
Look at that picture of Jeremy in his kayak again; he’s wearing a helmet and a life jacket. He has spotters behind him and spotters in the water (although you can’t see them in the picture). In other words, he’s not leaping blindly off a cliff just for the sake of risk-taking. He sees his goal, carefully measures the risks, and then takes reasonable steps forward.
Don’t equate risk with stupidity. Do your research, seek the wisdom and counsel of others, and (to the best of your ability) measure the consequences of any action, whether that’s moving forward or staying put.
If your natural bent is to stay safe and secure in your comfort zone, it’s time to call in some reinforcements.
Surround yourself with friends, colleagues, and mentors who will encourage and support you, but who will then ultimately give you that little nudge (or push) to help you step out of your comfort zone.
Make sure to choose your support system wisely. If others push too hard or too quickly, it can easily backfire and make you even more adverse to taking a risk in the future.
Very rarely, if ever, is the path to your goal one stable, straight path from beginning to end.
More than likely, your journey will look more like the back and forth, serpentine motions of me trying to back up my minivan down our long, country driveway.
So, prepare yourself for the pivot. Set out with the expectation that you’ll have to adjust as you go. The more you plan for this adjustment and are fluid in your expectations, the easier it will be.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that there is a risk in everything.
At some point, we have to come to grips with what Dave Hultin, President here at MI4P, likes to say, “Change is scary, but staying the same is scarier.”
We all have to accept that we will feel fear, but then we’ll do what’s necessary anyway. I’m convinced that as we continue to grow and stretch ourselves to take more risks, the easier it will become to be fearless.