It has been a long day. You have come home from work, popped open your favorite beverage, and start your surfing. First you start with Fox News, move over to Breitbar.com and then to National Review. Great, your thoughts of the day have been validated. If that isn’t you, maybe you turned on CNN, then MSNBC and heard the pundits tell you exactly what you were thinking. Either way, it is “validation“. You love it.
We often fall into these echo chambers. Time after time, we go down those chambers, and we feel great that we hear everything that we are already thinking. Humans love to be validated. We love to hear the things we want to hear, and stay within our comfort zones. How often do you push yourself outside of those zones, and seek out differing opinions?
As a leader, you need to make this a practice. How can you grow if you only get your news from one type of source? How can you learn how to add value to others by reading the same type of self-help books over and over? When is the last time you picked up something to read that could help you improve something other than your leadership skills? That’s a wild question, but it is also loaded one. We have choices in our reading, and self-improvement plans. Most of us pick a track and then stay on it. Reading every book from Maxwell is great, or only picking up books with the title Leadership in it is outstanding if you need the help. But, when is enough enough?
When do you pick up something about a different part of your life? When do you start to improve the other spokes of your wheel of life? Don’t get me wrong, I still want you to focus on becoming a better leader. Just maybe, by improving something unrelated to your career, you will be able to better connect with an individual that works for you? Pick up a book or podcast that is about your health, wealth, or spirituality. Use the time you have to become a better rounded person, and you may be able to better relate to others that are following you or need you to lead them in a different way.
Picking up that first Tom Clancy Book “Hunt for Red October” was one of the greatest moments of my adult reading life! I was turned on to a completely different genre. I consumed every book by Clancy, Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, and many others. The more I read I learned some new things, however my growth was less rapid.
Reading the same things had me stuck in this echo chamber. Finding a different genre, and expanding my echo chamber, I found that what I was loved about those books. It was the information that was within them. I was learning. I pushed myself to purchase a book about personal development (See You at the Top – Ziglar), and found a new genre. It not only fulfilled a need that I had to learn something, it as entertaining as well. Since then, I rotate my reading time between pure fun, professional development, and spirituality. I rotate authors, genres, and channels on the TV too.
Get out of your comfort zone
How are you going to get out of your comfort zone? If you enjoy a certain point of view, and only have so much time, how can you broaden your spectrum? It can be terrifying or at least uncomfortable. Why should you use that time for something else? You enjoy this or that. My personal belief, is that the incremental value will be higher, outside of your comfort zone than it is within it. You need to stretch yourself in order to grow. If you are not growing, you are dying.
“Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone” – Neale Walsh