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Beware of Comfort!

Everybody wants to be comfortable. It’s only natural to want to have your scene handled living in comfort knowing all is well around you. For many creative entrepreneurs the idea of growing their business to a level where they can chill is compelling indeed. Beware of comfort–it will put you to sleep.

No doubt about it, growing an independent creative business can be a very stressful, worrisome and anxiety-ridden experience. It’s compelling to yearn for the day when everything will be, at long last, more comfortable and in cruise-control mode.

That’s an illusion.

Comfort is a rattlesnake ready to lunge out with ferocity and bite you in the ass as you make your perfect plan to stay comfortable. If you’re comfortable in your business (and in your life) chances are you’re not growing. Chances are, underneath your awareness, things might be sliding back in the wrong direction. Comfort breeds complacency.

There is no there, there.

Every success-minded person I’ve worked with sets goals and eagerly goes about the business of accomplishing them. Once there however, in that place of accomplishment, one can get comfortable with the idea of being –accomplished. After a while your accomplishment becomes the status quo. Then there’s trouble in paradise!

I vividly recall my own early years of building my design firm. I was relentless about growing the business, learning how to sell, adding more and better clients, more employees, more awards, and more overhead. Over a period of about a decade, I actually reached the level of success that I had been visualizing in my mind all that time. I had finally “made it”!

After another period of time, I became comfortable with that level of accomplishment. I operated on the idea that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.  Everything seemed to be humming along just as I had planned.  I was confident and comfortable in my belief that all was well and the machine I had created would keep running on and on.

What I didn’t realize in the comfort and complacency of my success was I had become stale as week old bread!

What was once a sharp edge of learning, growth and expansion became dull, routine and predictable. The work I was doing was no longer exciting or challenging but the money was good. Oh yeah I got very comfortable with the money too! I had snared myself in my own trap. The business owned me now. My enthusiasm for the work began to erode and finally the flame went out. Game over.

Whatever stops growing starts dying.

Don’t allow yourself to become too comfortable in your success. When you stop growing and expanding your knowledge, skill and capability, you start the process of decay. You might not realize it, but it happens.

Growth and expansion involves constantly being out on the frontier of your experience. Like any adventurer to the frontier, you leave the comforts of your known experience behind. To keep yourself sharp and alive, you have to punch at the edges of your comfort zone. This friction of rubbing up against the wall is where the real juice of creativity and innovation is experienced. Continued growth is the natural order of things. All creation busts out of nothingness of the unknown. The same is true for the on-going growth of your business.

It’s fair to say that being satisfied and comfortable with where you’re at is a good reason to kick back. Indeed, being satisfied with your accomplishments is necessary to enjoy them, just don’t let your satisfaction stop you from learning more, contributing more, creating more.

The very nature of the creative process is a non-stop, life-long experience of bringing new ideas to the world to serve people.  This will involve continuously risking aspects of your comfort. Only through your continued growth will you sustain your creative edge in the delicate dance of bringing value to the world and experiencing the fulfillment of knowing your presence makes a difference.

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