Monday, November 14, 2011

Deprogram Your Autobot

Humans like routine. Profound insight on my part, I know. But we really do.

Think about your mornings… I’m guessing you do the same thing every morning in the same order, with the same breakfast, leaving for work or starting work at the same time every day. (Hopefully not with the same underwear. Just sayin’.)

There is comfort in routine, in the expected, in the same faces, day after day. Even those who swear routine bores them, in some way worship their own private routines and rituals.

A couple of years ago, I worked for a company where one of the Vice Presidents challenged the leaders to step out of their comfort zone every day. That stuck with me, so much so that I used the story when making a presentation to a group of people within my own region. The purpose of the presentation was to encourage them to step out of their routine and try selling a new product line.

One of them called me out on my challenge and wanted to know what I’d done that day to step out of my comfort zone (I had hired him, that’s why he had it out for me). I quipped that standing and talking in front of a group of people was stepping out of my comfort zone, which was a lie, because while I was a bit nervous, I actually like presenting in front of people when I know the topic. I turned serious and told him what I’d done earlier that day that made me a little uncomfortable.

Okay fast forward to now. The recommendation for people to step out of their comfort zones is meant to encourage people to keep learning, keep innovating, and keep getting better.

I had the privilege of listening to Daniel Pink speak at HR Southwest recently. For those of you that don’t know Daniel, he discusses behavioral science as it relates to motivation. (He’s got a cool presentation on YouTube – click here – good stuff). Mr. Pink changed my thoughts on stepping out of your comfort zone.

An example Pink gives is the company Intuit. The CEO declared that the company wanted to go mobile. Intuit allows employees to spend what they call ‘10% time’ on their bliss. Before the company could form a team or fund a project, on 10% time employees created seven mobile apps.

How cool is that?

Now. I challenge you to deprogram your autobot. Step out of your normal routine and follow your bliss. You heard me. Follow your passion for a little while each day and see where it leads. I bet your brilliance will surprise you.