Peak performers who successfully achieve their goals or reach the position in life they were pursing, often become comfortable. After reaching a comfort zone, familiarity sets in and breeds boredom which reduces enthusiasm.  This comfort and boredom causes peak performers to stop being curious, learning, growing and pursuing new challenges and achievements.  Comfort isn’t usually the primary goal of peak performers but sneaks in to sabotage future achievements.

We’ve all experienced people who seemed to be comfortable with the status quo even though they talk about wanting better results. Often, these people havebeen peak performers. These same people can agree it’s time for change but go back to what’s familiar and even begin to dig in and fight the change that could create the better results they say they want.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” The crazy thing is that people will choose the easy way, or path of least resistance, and expect exceptional results.  The real challenge lies in rejecting the natural desire to seek comfort and to start pursuing constant change, growth and improvement. It’s really an issue of becoming comfortable with the unfamiliar and staying outside your comfort zone.

Studies have shown people will fight to stay in an unhappy situation rather than move into an unfamiliar or unknown situation that could bring them happiness. It’s giving in to these natural desires for comfort and familiarity that makes most people produce mediocre results. They are the drivers of average behavior. They are the enemies of peak performance.

People are naturally more motivated by discomfort than by the desire to improve. People seek improvement until they are comfortable and then they resist change with the same energy they pursued comfort. Coach John Wooden said, “When you think you’re through learning, you’re through.”  The most deadly words in the world are, ‘I know that’,  because the next thing someone does after they think or say those words is to stop listening, reading or learning.

When things get tough and change is needed, comfort often motivates people to ‘hunker down’ and ‘wait’ until things get better rather than taking actions and looking for alternatives to make things better.  People don’t achieve their goals that make them comfortable with this dig in and don’t change mentality .  Rather, they only stopped moving forward, being innovative thinkers and advocates for change after they achieved their personal goals and reached their comfort level.

When bright, aggressive people who were able to achieve their goals start to ‘hunker down’ and ‘wait’ rather than pursuing their next achievement, it is most definitely a sign of comfort or fear of the unknown. This is a natural cycle that has to be overcome to sustain long term peak performance.

Peak performers treat comfort as a plateau to be reached. They see them as a pause or place to begin moving forward to their next achievement and opportunity to reach new heights. Peak performers keep climbing because they know if they don’t they risk falling becasue fighting to maintain your comfort level is a recipe for unhappiness and failure.

When the time comes that you’d rather be comfortable more than to pursue change, grow and improve, you are at risk of losing what you are so comfortable having.  It’s

learn, change and grow or begin dying, whether in life or in business. For peak performers, the choice is simple, even though it’s not easy. Peak performers change directions and start again with new enthusiasm.

Peak performers are energized by change.  They view resistance to change as painful, not the change itself. Peak performers are great competitors. Great competitors usually lose the will to prepare before they lose the desire to perform. When this happens, performance suffers. Too often, people get comfortable with their past achievements or the position they hold and it creates an unwillingness to embrace the changes needed for them to move forward to new accomplishments.

We are facing unprecedented challenges today and new thinking, attitudes and skills are needed to achieve peak performance. The exciting news is it’s an interesting time to live and work. The challenge is letting go of past success and starting over without allowing your existing knowledge and experience to get in the way of learning new things.

There really isn’t a risk in letting your comfort go because it’s almost impossible to maintain it without change, growth and improvement. Holding on to comfort is like holding water in your hands, it will eventually evaporate, won’t allow you to use your hands for anything else and it’s easier to just find new water when you need it.

A peak performers exercise is to set aside a few minutes each day to suspend what you defend. Set aside your beliefs, knowledge and experience while you attempt to learn something that is unfamiliar or unknown. This can even be looking at what you’ve been resisting, take the other side and try to argue its validity to yourself…Just give yourself a few moments to not be defensive and protect your position to see what’s possible.

Peak performers re-energize by embracing change and stretching themselves outside their comfort zones.  Be careful that the attitude and strategy to ‘hunker down’ and “‘wait’ for things to improve doesn’t sneak in. Be careful you don’t start hiding behind the idea of going, ‘back to basics’ to maintain your existing comfort plateau.  Going back in today’s world is usually a bad strategy. This isn’t the thinking that made you a peak performer in the first place, led to your past success nor will it play any part in your future success.

In the pursuit of peak performance you’ll have to stop pursuing comfort, resisting change and holding on to your status quo. Instead, you’ll need to challenge yourself to think without limits and become a change agent whose pursuit is achieving all that’s possible. Remember your goals are to be plateaus, not destinations and keep pursuing all that’s possible.

By Mike Moore

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