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As I mentioned last week David Peterson is the Director of Executive Coaching & Leadership at Google.

He mentioned a phrase which stuck with me: “There’s no learning in the comfort zone, and there’s no comfort in the learning zone.” Last week I talked about the first part, today I’d like to focus on the second.

Why does learning push you out of your comfort zone?

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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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You know how damaging this can be to a team: someone who is always critical, unsupportive, unacknowledging. It’s no surprise that people avoid them.

But here’s today’s challenge: What if YOU are that person? When you’re the leader, you set the tone for everyone’s attitude. Including how they view other organizations and the larger goals.

Yet you think of your role as keeping people on track, noticing problems and assigning jobs. Those are good and necessary things, for sure.

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I talk with employees all the time who are a bit lost on this concept of “mission.” They can’t bring anything to mind when I ask them what the mission of their company might be, and it doesn’t seem to have any relevance to their job even if there was one.

This is a problem.

Honestly, I don’t really care if you call it a purpose or mission or values or goal. I don’t mind if it doesn’t have a name at all. And I don’t care if it’s in highly refined words which precisely capture in a beautifully wordsmithed paragraph.

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Leadership is weird.

We’re stuck in this space of always striving, always reaching. Never satisfied with the status quo.

But that wears people out – physically, emotionally, intellectually. So what’s the difference between a leader who uses this effectively, versus just burning people out?

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I’m a member of a local organization of professional coaches. We recently had a very powerful meeting, and one of the attendees described it in a way which really stuck with me:

“An encouragement based community.”

In fact, that does describe how I feel about this group. More importantly, it got me thinking about how we often use “support” but not “encouragement.” In groups, communities, and the workplace.

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We’re all looking for the magic key to managing employees. But despite all the support, the benefits, the encouragement … they never seem to care as much about the business as you do.

That’s natural. They haven’t poured their heart and soul into it for as long as you have. And, if you’re the owner, you may have your entire life savings tied up in this.

But it is possible to tap that energy, that passion, that caring.

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The absence of job dissatisfaction is not satisfaction, much less engagement.

That was a powerful conclusion from the research of Fredrick Herzberg back in the middle of the last century, and it is certainly true today. It’s a fundamental principle of how we engage employees and others who work for us.

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A recent Gallup paper concluded: “When your best employees are not engaged, they are as likely to leave your organization as your employees who tend to have performance issues and are unhappy.”

We can all understand how your under-performers will look for opportunities elsewhere. And, honestly, you don’t worry so much about them, right?

Good riddance. They weren’t delivering that much for me anyway.

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You know exactly why employee motivation matters. Productivity. Teamwork. Customer service.

But I run across a whole lot of people who don’t know how to build and nurture that innovation. They think it’s just a magic thing that some people have and some don’t.That’s why I was excited to read Why Managers Must Ask 5 Questions to Empower Employees, one of Gallup’s top 2018 reports. It’s practical and powerful.

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