Stress. Anxiety. Overwhelm. Call it what you want, running a small business can be extremely uncomfortable. (Heck, writing this blog is uncomfortable.) And, if we're not paying attention, the discomfort experienced prompts us to disconnect from whatever we're working on. Sadly, this pattern of disconnection negatively influences our ability to perform.
The Angst of Entrepreneurship
What makes a small business owner uncomfortable? Everything!
Networking. Inefficiency of scale. Client acquisition. Cash flow. Too much to do and not enough time in which to do it all properly or well.
Angst is a small business owner's constant companion until the pain and discomfort -- the stress and anxiety -- cause us to abandon our optimistic plans of the day. We jump ship for lesser anxiety producing activities...like email. Like rearranging chairs on the Titanic, a new day dawns and we repeat the process.
Growing a business is certainly not for the faint of heart.
The Quest For Our Comfort Zone
My comfort zone is my happy place. It's where I am least anxious and stressed. It's also where my ability to perform is muffled.
Author, lecturer, and consultant, Alistair White, defines a comfort zone as "a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk."
Some anxiety is good. In fact, I would argue that a little anxiety is needed to fuel performance. Leveraged risk is necessary for business growth. The key is to move beyond our comfort zone without entering the dreaded danger zone that causes us to abandon ship.
5 Ways to Move Beyond Discomfort to Performance
- Understand the comfort-discomfort-performance cycle. To borrow a phrase from NBC, "the more you know" the easier it is to withstand periods of intense discomfort. Sustained time spent in the discomfort zone lends itself to higher levels of performance -- and an expansion of your comfort zone.
See? It really isn't you. It's the cycle!
Yet, according to Charles Handy, author of The Empty Raincoat, a time of great confusion exists between current performance and new performance. This confusion lends itself to moments of anxiety and fear. Although not yet part of the danger zone (see #1) our desire to seek comfort and equilibrium causes one to abandon discomfort. The rejection of distress and craving for contentment upsets performance.
The human intellect, however, is an incredible resource. Armed with an understanding of the confusion to new performance route improves our ability to endure the discomfort.
Ahhh, the angst and joy of being human!
Business planning, by itself, seldom creates fear and anxiety. Rather, it is the implementation that sparks fear, throwing one over the edge of discomfort into the danger zone.
A giant step forward can trigger neglect, failure, and disregard for your goals during implementation. Rather, select goals at the edge of your discomfort and clearly out of the danger zone. Temper your expectancy with 90-day targets, each being 10% more than the previous target. Believe it or not, even at a 10% improvement in performance, results will double in less than 18 months.
Getting things done is not the same as achieving your goals (and getting results that grow your business). So, be very clear on what you intend to achieve, not accomplish.
Are you ready to take a journey to move away from comfort and endure some discomfort for greater performance and better results?
5 Ways to Overcome the Agonizing Discomfort of Entrepreneurship first appeared on Synnovatia's small business growth blog.