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I had a chance to see a presentation by David Peterson recently; he’s the Director of Executive Coaching & Leadership at Google. And a brilliant coach!

He mentioned a phrase which stuck with me: “There’s no learning in the comfort zone.” There’s actually a second part of the statement, but I’m going to talk about that next week.

So why would the comfort zone be a place of no learning?

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This should be an easy question to answer, right? You’re the boss, so you’re steering the ship!

But there’s a good chance that when I listen to you, I’m hearing you mention a lot of other people. The employee who called in sick. Those customers who just keep demanding. The weather. The government.

I get it, I really do. It feels like I’m just a tiny boat on the water, at the mercy of anything and everything.

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Cleaning up after a meeting, I asked, “where’s your recycling?”

I wasn’t that surprised to find out they had no recycling bin in that office, so I simply took the can home with me. No big deal.

I wasn’t trying to be “that annoying guy with an agenda”, but trying to move the needle, even fractionally.

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Do you have the whole world figured out? I sure don’t.

There are days when I’m not sure I understand anything.

That’s where it pays to be curious. Like a child.

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I’ve written profiles for about 80 values-driven businesses, and one of them shut down last week. As I think about it, there are probably 7 or 8 which have failed in the last five years.

That’s better than average, actually, as the SBA estimated that 95% of startups don’t survive their first five years. But it’s not a comforting thought.

As someone who is trying to do something special, even world-changing, in your business, why don’t statistics like this cause you to just give up?

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At some point, you reach the end of your knowledge and expertise. You’re feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Especially if you feel you have to be the expert in the room.

The simplest, most powerful way out of this problem is just to … admit it. Tell the others that you’re at the end of what you know and need help.

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There are times when your business is facing the truly big choices.

M&A (mergers & acquisitions) or taking your company public are the events that bring lots of press attention, but for a smaller company there are many more modest examples:

  • Hiring your first employee
  • Putting a management layer in for the first time
  • Retiring from your business
  • Expanding from single-location to multiple-location
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You can do nothing about the past. So business should all be about the future, right?

So why bother looking at stuff we can’t affect? Because of what you can learn from it.

If you think about it, that’s why we track metrics and measures – because of how it informs and supports decisions about the future.

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I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but for me this is a great time to avoid doing hard work. It’s cold. I just got back from vacation. Everybody’s out of the office.

Don’t get me wrong – we all need to have some relaxation and downtime.

But we know that most of these reasons are bogus excuses.

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NO DOUBT YOU SPENT many years in this classroom situation. Sit up. Pay attention. Take notes. Be quiet.

And there will be a test in a few weeks.

I’m not a fan of this model for adult learners like you and me. Why? Because it ignores the fact that the best learning is active collaboration.

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