I’m the archetypical Gemini.
In my private life, I need a stable foundation and predictability. In my work life, I need excitement and exploring new things.
I wouldn’t mind having the same breakfast each day for the rest of my life. But I could not work in a job where I do the same thing over and over again.
I grew up in a family environment where I had to deal with the exact opposite: unpredictability at home, expectations for being with happy with the Status Quo at work. Shows you how little your family influences the core of your personality.
So, I tried many things: law degree, airline station manager, MBA, Creative Director, European editor, CEO, heading media departments, back to being CEO.
There’s one big fear that always ruled my work life: the fear that one day I look back at my life and regret I didn’t take on things I should have taken on. Sentences like “I wish I would have…” or “If only…” make me quiver in fear. I always wanted to move forward. That doesn’t mean I felt the need to leave jobs after a few months. I just knew it was time to move on when I felt too comfortable in my job. When the answers came too easy, when the job felt like a part-time occupation, when my heart and soul wasn’t in it anymore.
For some people, that’s when they excel. When they’re so close to the client they can read their thoughts, when strategies come easy, when they’re completely aligned with the internal and external structures. That’s when I feel the need to move on.
When I get too comfortable, I get extremely uncomfortable.
That doesn’t mean you have to leave your job immediately. It can mean that you find new challenges within your current organization. Or that you work on the client side for a while. Get new accounts to work on. Develop side projects that keep you going and exploring. When you deal pro-actively with your high level of comfort, you can become uncomfortable again and discover new ways of satisfying your hunger for change.
One of the biggest problems of this messy economy is that too many people are staying with companies they should have left a long time ago. There are just no other opportunities out there, new careers paths are blocked off and the housing marketing has forced us to become an immobile society. It’s easy to stay cozy in the comfort zone.
It’s the worst thing you can do.
At the end, companies are looking at the bottom line. You have climbed the ladder, you have developed a reputation, you have earned your spot. But you need to earn it each and every day. You need to bring new ideas to the table, push your company and yourself forward constantly – in short: you need to show what you are bringing to the company and to your clients.
Don’t be afraid. Just push forward.
I’m not writing this to make you take Valium or hide in some dark corner. Exactly the opposite: No matter where you are in life, push forward. Make things happen. Try new things. Experiment.
We’re part of an amazing industry where industriousness, innovation and weird ideas are being rewarded. Those things don’t happen inside your comfort zone, they happen on the edges, the margins, and from there comes dynamism and change. The mainstream may appear the safe place to be, but it sure as hell isn’t much fun and the last 3 years showed each of us there is no safe place except at the edges.
Don’t be comfortable.