On October 10-12, I attended the TCA (Tilt-Up Concrete Association) Annual Convention in Denver, CO. It was an excellent opportunity to network as well as take the pulse of the market. I make it a point to take advantage of the wide variety of speakers. Dan Lester, of Concrete Strategies presented on “Education, Community Programming and Diversity Suggest Viable Solutions for an Aging Workforce”. He began his presentation by having us get a partner, stand up, put our hands on each other’s shoulders and stare into our partners’ eyes for 30 seconds. Keep in mind that of the 100 or so people in the room, 98 of them were men. At the end of the 30 seconds, he had us sit down and asked us to raise our hands if we felt uncomfortable during the exercise. Nearly every hand in the room went up. His next sentence is what captured my attention; “folks if you are not uncomfortable, you are not growing.” He went on to talk about the need for reform in our process of recruiting and the necessity for getting involved much earlier in the school system to educate students and our future workforce about the opportunities that exist in construction.
It was extremely informational, but his phrase about being uncomfortable to achieve growth is what keeps replaying in my mind. We are knee deep in our 2017 budget and a lot of our discussions are about how to achieve growth in a lackluster/flat economy.
Few people actually enjoy the feeling of being uncomfortable, myself included. The challenge is to get past that initial feeling of wanting to return to the norm so we can grow and benefit from that discomfort. As we work on the 2017 budget and explore ways to continue to scale and grow, I can almost guarantee a degree of discomfort.
In his book Linchpin, Seth Godin wrote, “Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone. Your uncomfortable actions lead to success.” If we want to continue to lead the industry and outperform the competition, we must always be looking for new opportunities and ways to stay ahead of others vying for the same customers, the same vendors the same markets. We must continue to push to improve our processes and procedures and customer service.
Another key element is that toe dipping, meaning making small safe changes, never really gets things moving. We need to dive in head-on and fully immerse ourselves. Take the plunge. It might be more stressful, but there’s no better way to get the process going to move ourselves beyond that one thing holding us back. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, once said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks.”
I am fond of saying that the one thing I can guarantee you is that tomorrow will be different than today. Of course, not all discomfort serves a positive purpose or will contribute to our growth. Standing in front of a moving bus certainly isn’t recommended. We must all be selective about how, when, and why we are introducing discomfort and how it can benefit us.
Ultimately, we each have to find the courage, awareness, and understanding that allow us to see problems and hurdles for what they really are: opportunities to grow and learn.
As you outline your plans for growth in 2017, my message is to have the courage to be uncomfortable! As always, I look forward to your feedback. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org