Are You Stretching Your Comfort Zone or Strengths Zone?

Are You Stretching Your Comfort Zone or Strengths Zone?  2014 Indy MiniI ran the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon with my daughter, relatives and friends this past weekend. It was a great accomplishment and euphoric feeling to finish the 13.1 miles in 2.08 hours.

As a forever leaner I always want to stretch myself and expand my comfort zone. I set about 10 goals a year with details and the “why” behind them so I can review them monthly to make sure I am doing the activities to support my goals. One big thing I always do is to have red flags in life. Red flags are activities I perform to ensure I am not going off track. One big one is running a race every year. I used to have 10k races as the mark but a few years back upped it to ½ Marathons. The flag concept is an alert to me that my lifestyle isn’t matching up with my goals and who I want to be. A perfect example is running the ½ marathon. If I can’t that means I am doing something in my life that is preventing me from achieving an important target. The alert may be that I am drinking too much, not getting enough sleep or simply not exercising. The action is to adjust my lifestyle to allow me to achieve my lifetime goals.

Another goal I had was to increase my public speaking – definitely a comfort zone expander!! A few months ago I did a technology whiteboard discussion with the Renaissance Executive Forums CFO peer group. It was great and interactive, which I loved. I went to the next level and had the opportunity to speak at the Chief Executive Boards International Summit in Atlanta a few weeks ago on the topic of Business Strategy and Technology Alignment. There were about 55 CEO’s/Owners which pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit, but I prepared, read the book “Talk Like TED”, and things went well.

Since I believe in stretching my comfort zone I started reading the book StandOut by Marcus Buckingham. He discusses the comfort zone vs. strengths zone in the book, which opened my thinking even further. In the book he mentions not blindly stretching your comfort zone as you may end up in someone else’s strength zone and loose. I had never thought of that.

With certain goals it is a comfort zone stretch, but with others such as career you should be a little more strategic and focus on your strengths zone. It will ultimately get you to your sweet spot and allow you to be a happier and more successful person.

As far as your team members go, get them fully engaged. As leaders you need to:

  • Take ownership of what you are asking them to do
  • Remind yourself that you put them in the seat on the bus they are on
  • Make sure you understand their viewpoint
  • If they are not in their strengths zone, move them to another seat
  • If they don’t want to understand their strengths or adjust – get them off your bus. You really do someone a disservice by keeping them around if they are not performing.  With that said, asking your team what they are working on and how you can help usually opens up great dialog. Building goodwill and help others just feels good. Seek to understand, then to be understood.


  • Create red flags in life that will alert you when you are going off track
  • Read StandOut by Marcus Buckingham
  • Remember your strengths (see my Strengths Blog)
  • Drive into storms and address what needs to be addressed.