Here’s a novel way to achieve more. Let go of more.
Move past comfort. Kick habits. Smash goals.
Sure, habits create comfort. But they often become restraints that hold you and your team back from anything beyond small victories.
To smash goals, you gotta let it go.
“Comfort and growth are not compatible,” says Chuck Wachendorfer, co-author of Don’t Wait For Someone Else To Fix It: 8 Essentials to Enhance Your Leadership Impact at Work, Home, and Anywhere Else That Needs You, and President of Distribution at think2perform. “Comfort typically means you’ve been doing the same thing for a while, and it’s become a habit or routine. Often, the results are predictable from those routine patterns of behavior.”
Why we can’t smash goals
Work teams fail to hit their objectives — much less smash goals — more than 55% of the time, according to research from The Ken Blanchard Companies. The shame is, they often don’t have to do much more to hit goals: One body of research found we only need to give about 1% more effort to hit goals more often!
Most of the time, they just need to do something different.
The problem is many leaders and their team members find it difficult to:
- recognize habits that hold them back
- drop the stuff that feeds the habits
- move out of the comfort zones habits provide, and
- adopt new ways to accomplish work (and not let those turn into new restraining habits!)
“In order to grow or improve your results as a business or even in your life, you need to be willing to try new things and be uncomfortable,” Wachendorfer says.
Here’s a five-step approach to letting go of comforts to achieve more.
1. Forget what you know
The first – and most likely most difficult – step is to let go of some of the knowledge you’re most comfortable with:
- points of view
- conventional wisdom
- dated training, and
- even some of your education.
Of course, we’re not suggesting you throw certifications, degrees, educated viewpoints and training manuals out the window. What the experts suggest is that we recognize there are other points of view, more recent best-practices and updated training that should be considered.
For every bit of conditioned piece of knowledge you use for the next project, ask team members or colleagues if they have experience with something different or new. If no one counters with something else, prod more. “Yes People” will not help your team smash goals.
“Letting go, while it might sound simple, isn’t always easy. Simple and easy are not synonymous,” says Wachendorfer.
2. Encourage experimentation
This could be the simplest step for leaders: Encourage employees to experiment with new approaches to work and solutions to issues.
But you have to do a critical thing at each end of their experimentations:
- Before: Give them training to understand the task – not just do it – and empower them to handle it without micromanaging how it’s done.
- After: Be open to their ideas, implementing what works immediately, encouraging tweaks when possible and explaining why some experiments won’t work.
One sure question that encourages experimentation: Is there a better way to achieve the results we’re getting?
3. Resist defensiveness
When people experiment with and suggest something outside the comfort zone, it’s often met with resistance. First from leaders. Then from anyone affected by the idea to change.
“You also have to practice self-awareness to ensure you’re not being defensive, staying open and consciously deciding to be uncomfortable,” says Wachendorfer.
So, resist defensiveness, then encourage it on your team. One way: Ask more clarifying questions. Rather than focus on how an idea won’t work, ask questions about making it work in your circumstances. For instance, “X might impact Y. What do you think is the best way we can work with that?”
4. Be curious
Let’s say one idea truly won’t work. That’s the time to get more curious. Perhaps you need to explore whether there really is a problem. Or maybe it’s time to review processes and protocols to be sure they’re even things your team should be doing.
Oftentimes, we do things out of habit, rather than necessity. What was once a must is a nuisance we never bothered to review.
Get curious with your team about why you do things and how you can stop doing them.
“The key to any change in life or business is self-awareness. In business, organizational self-awareness involves paying attention to data and results,” says Wachendorfer.
He suggests you ask:
- What are we doing?
- How is it working?
- What are the results of our efforts?
- Are our efforts taking us closer to our vision and goals?
“They ground you in reality, not what you hope, or think is really happening,” says Wachendorfer.
5. Choose growth
Letting things go and choosing growth is intentional. Without intention, you and your team will likely fall back into the habits that keep us at the status quo – and keep growth at bay.
One way to stay focused on growth – and eventually smash goals – is to try something Wachendorfer and his colleagues do: The WDYWFY or What Do You Want For Yourself approach.
“WDYWFY involves declaring what you want for yourself each year and reflecting throughout the year on whether or not you are on track to achieve those wants,” explains Wachendorfer. “Often, you have to control direction and throw off discouragement in order to stay on track. That requires letting go of assumptions that are no longer working or trying new things.”