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Comfort Is Our Greatest Nemesis

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When I was younger, a service manager in his thirties, problem-solving became my forte.  This happened by accident, mostly because I was too embarrassed to admit my inability to resolve complex problems.  Fear of failure is a strong emotion.  Surrendering to a problem might be the safe route, but tenacity drove me to learn difficult things.  Over the years, I learned that each problem I resolved primed me for the problems ahead in the coming days, months, and years. This resilient attitude prepared me for a major product factory recall. 

The mental strain of being continually blamed for a defective product I personally didn’t design, or manufacture, was exhausting.  Some customers become irate, hypercritical, and irrational while others sought assistance from their State Attorney General, Better Business Bureau or other consumer advocacy agencies. 

Multiple unit failures demoralized our technicians and as the service manager, I focused on the customers, captured facts and details, and remained constructive amidst a pervasive quality problem.  Knowing what wasn’t killing me was making me stronger was not top on my mind.  Technicians, office staff and phone reps described their lack of perspective, a decrease in restful sleep and a constant onslaught of more problems.  Intrinsically, I knew that naming the problem was a prerequisite to resolving it.  I settled on a clear, concise, and comprehensive title for the malady. Stress. 

And thus began a search for every book I could read about stress.  The topic of stress overlapped with psychology and mental fitness, so this led to even more constructive research.  Compiling this newfound knowledge into an in-house training program enabled my service technicians to raise their own stress threshold and remain constructive during chaos. 

These days, when I teach at trade schools and community colleges, I challenge students with the message that comfort is their greatest nemesis. While everyone seeks a comfortable life, this “comfortable” condition can result in stasis.  The downside of stasis is the lack of forward mobility – we stop advancing ourselves.   

That nice, cozy feeling can eventually become unsatisfying – especially if it prevents us from achieving higher aspirations.  I tell students that seeking comfort is the surefire way to give up on being a better version of themselves.  

It is not surprising that trying something new and fleeing our comfort zone is not easy.  The urge to surrender is inherent and inner strength is required to resist giving up.  This resolve is mandatory, especially in a culture that upholds convenience and comfort above all else. 

The dark side of learning difficult things is failure and criticism.  In my case, neither failure nor criticism is fun, and it took years to learn not to take it personally.  It wasn’t until I stopped viewing criticism as judgment, that I was able to learn from failure.  Advancement and professional growth can flourish when a person listens to feedback. 

In my senior years, reflecting upon past successes and failures, I have learned that tenacity and perseverance are the keys to advancing our personal life and professional career.   

Steve Coscia, CSP

Posted In: Business Development, Customer Service, Uncategorized

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