Leadership Tip #3: Your Comfort Zone Rules

When we were young, we were taught to color inside the lines. We learned the rules that would keep us out of trouble, and sometimes following them, even earned us praise. All of those rules came from outside of us. It could have been a rule that someone else taught us, a societal norm or even a law, and if you were anything like me, you didn’t want to suffer the consequences of breaking the rules. You learned to comply.

Now, as you matured, those lines adjusted. There were even times when you realized it could be advantageous to color outside the lines. You realized that someone else’s line didn’t benefit you, and it was okay to step outside of that comfort zone that was created by someone else. Most of us were taught to be scared to step out of our comfort zones or color outside the lines. And we were taught this because others, through their perspective, thought they were keeping us safe. They could only see what they could see. What you may not fully realize is that you are now the person who is setting those lines for others to color inside of.

If you are a parent, you are establishing the lines you want your child to stay in. If you are a supervisor, you are establishing the lines you want your employees to stay in. You are drawing those lines for the exact same reasons others did it for you. You want to keep the people in your world safe. You believe that if others play within the lines you’ve established for yourself, they won’t get hurt or get in trouble. However, just like you eventually saw something different from those who drew your lines, there is a great likelihood that the people on your teams, at home and work, also see something different.

You are not only limiting yourself with your comfort zone, you are limiting others who look to you for leadership. Unless you allow them to color outside of your lines, none of you will realize what’s possible. The beauty of a team is gaining as many perspectives as possible. Those perspectives are only valuable if you act on them.

The innovation and growth of your team, organization, family, etc. is totally dependent on your ability to stretch your comfort zone and trust that others may be able to see things that are in your blind spot. When you do, not only will THEY grow, you will too!

Start small and bend some lines or allow some coloring just over the edge. This doesn’t mean we are reckless. It means we take purposeful risks. It may not always work out, however, the magic is in the times that it does. It’s on the edge that we uncover what else is possible. A growth leader allows team members to push not only their personal boundaries but also the leader’s boundaries. In fact, they encourage it.

What will you do today to encourage your teams to color outside the lines?