Learning Zone vs. Comfort Zone [Guest Post]

by ShawnP on February 14, 2011 · 14 comments

Guest Post: Shawn Patterson is the Senior Director of Corporate Services at DTE Energy where he is responsible for the Supply Chain, Fleet, Facilities, and Continuous Improvement organizations. Shawn has held numerous positions in multiple industries and is passionate about influencing lean transformations in organizations.

In light of recent financial pressures, I’ve heard a lot of co-workers ask the question, “when does this end and when will things return to normal?” Behind the question is a deep discomfort with the relentless challenges to do more with less. It seems the target being sought is an environment that is more stable and predictable.

I’m not sure that’s possible as companies shift up from good to excellence.  The reason for this rests in the fact that excellence requires people to almost constantly be in the “learning zone”. On the other hand, to exist in the “comfort zone” requires us to accept what we now know how to do, which generally leads to the same results.

The learning zone is broadly defined as where our current skills are no longer sufficient to carry out new tasks and challenges. Managed well, it is a safe area (professionally and emotionally) that stretches us to acquire new skills, new insights, or new patterns of thinking. Fundamentally, it is the way that anyone learns and grows.

Think about the first time driving a car. In the beginning it was unfamiliar, challenging, and perhaps stressful. But taught through a safe set of practices, a whole new life long skill set was acquired. Almost anything we learn must take us out of our normal routines and challenge our existing skills.

In the comfort zone, we can draw on what we already know. However, we really aren’t on the learning edge either. To be fair, a good part of any day should probably have a fair amount routines that rely on our comfort zone. However, we do need to be pushed, and as leaders we do need to push our teams to the learning zone.

When I hear the question, “when will this end?”, I try to look at through the lens of the Leaning Zone/Comfort Zone. Are we just seeking to collapse back in to what we already know? Or are we just in the stressful period of the Learning Zone that will lead to higher performance? I think this re-frame for those feeling discomfort is vital. It’s a constant state in the push for excellence.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matt Wrye February 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Shawn –

I liked the way you framed it. That opened my eyes because I would tell people this is the new world we live in. It is what it is and going back probably isn’t going to happen. I completely see what you mean about comfort zone. People look at today’s economy and want it to go back to the way it was because everyone was comfortable there. If we can get people to see this as the learning zone and get better and apply new skills, then before we know it today’s world will become the comfort zone.

2 Shawn Patterson February 14, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Matt. When I was introduced to this framework, it was a real epiphany for me. It’s been a useful pick me up personally. I try to shift my perspective from “this is stressful” to “this is a learning opportunity.” It seems a lot of organizational cultures seek stability whereas the best companies covet adaptablity, which is the outpost of the learning zone.

All the best!

3 通博娛樂城 February 6, 2017 at 7:41 pm

There are some attention-grabbing time limits on this article but I don know if I see all of them heart to heart. There may be some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish extra! Added to FeedBurner as well

4 賓果遊戲玩法 February 6, 2017 at 7:42 pm

Can I just say what a aid to search out someone who really knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know the right way to bring a difficulty to gentle and make it important. Extra folks have to learn this and perceive this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more well-liked since you undoubtedly have the gift.

5 運動彩券投注站 February 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm

What i don’t understood is actually how you’re not really much more well-liked than you may be right now. You’re very intelligent. You realize therefore significantly relating to this subject, produced me personally consider it from a lot of varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it is one thing to do with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs outstanding. Always maintain it up!

6 八方娛樂城 February 6, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Simply wish to say your article is as astounding. The clearness in your post is simply great and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

7 百家樂遊戲 February 6, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Hello very nice website!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds additionallyI am|I’m} satisfied to seek out numerous helpful information right here within the publish, we need develop more strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

8 皇璽會娛樂城 February 6, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Hi there, You’ve done an excellent job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited from this site.

9 娛樂城 February 6, 2017 at 7:45 pm

WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. ?

10 八方娛樂城 February 6, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

11 百家樂遊戲 February 6, 2017 at 7:46 pm

Wonderful items from you, man. I’ve keep in mind your stuff previous to and you’re simply too excellent. I actually like what you’ve bought here, certainly like what you are stating and the best way by which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to stay it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you. That is actually a great website.

12 賓果大小 February 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for info about this topic for a long time and yours is the best I have came upon so far. But, what concerning the conclusion? Are you positive concerning the supply?

13 運動彩券 February 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm

That is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look ahead to looking for extra of your wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: