Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Continuous learning
We always wonder about the cleverness, smartness, and innovativeness of small children. We are astonished with the way they approach a problem to find a solution; they fall, hurt themselves, but when they reach the goal overcoming all the obstacles, they beam with pride. It is a sense of achievement that you see and they move on forgetting the incident or event that has just happened. We all have that determined child in us but, often fail to think and act like the child that takes risks to achieve something big. Why is it so? It is because we are afraid of failure, expectations (society, peers, colleagues, family, and friends), and fail to bring forth our full potential. Each one of us has ideas that are potential gold mines but we don’t express these ideas. Being an entrepreneur in the workplace; thinking like an entrepreneur, planning and executing some spark within the boundaries, limits of a business environment will provide astounding results and limitless opportunities. The argument is that my organization, my team does not have a framework to think and act like an entrepreneur. Is it a valid argument or just an excuse to not to try? I always wonder if we are limiting our boundaries because we don’t want to try or are afraid of failure and ridicule.
Entrepreneurship leads to innovation. To innovate, you need to step out the comfort zone and move to the optimal performance zone or stretch zone. Comfort zone is no psychological babble or a relic from the past, it is happening today to all of us in the corporate world. We are comfortable in what we do and don’t want to move beyond the routine that we have set for ourselves. Statistics state that 2% of the population takes risks and moves out of the comfort zone to do something that will have a greater impact on business opportunities. The 98% who don’t want to step out of the comfort zone miss on these opportunities but are still comfortable. To achieve something, I think we should be uncomfortable; being uncomfortable gives us an edge, an advantage, sharper focus, concentration, enhanced thinking power, awareness of facts, and provides the acute perception to analyze situations perfectly. It also leads to personal satisfaction and growth. In the comfort zone, there is a sense of familiarity and security, when we step outside, we are opening ourselves to stress and anxiety. The way we handle a little bit of healthy stress and anxiety will actually result in growth. Staying in the comfort zone results in consistent and steady performance, stepping out of it results in optimal performance. Comfort zone is our neutral territory but getting too comfortable will hold us back to innovate, learn, grow, and transform.
To think like an entrepreneur in your workplace, we need to step out of the comfort zone to the stretch zone. Leave some of the unwanted baggage behind so as to transition into the stretch zone seamlessly. Also, we should be able to find our way back to the comfort zone if necessary. It is also necessary to remember that stepping out does not mean being productive always, it means that we are giving ourselves a chance to explore our hidden potential. Once you embrace the stretch zone, we are opening ourselves to continuous learning. Do it once, move out of the comfort zone, and we find that we can do it always. We actually have conquered the fear of failure. That is the beauty of continuous learning, it leads to new frontiers to explore and experiment. But too much stress and anxiety can be detrimental and leads to exhaustion. So, we should moderate ourselves when leaving the comfort zone, else, we will land up in the lap of the panic zone without much effort on our part. The panic zone stifles creativity and learning.
For me, sharing knowledge is a way of continuous learning. Attending a learning event is continuous progression in the way we think and act. Being an entrepreneur in the way we think in the workplace can lead to innovation. Innovation results in continuous learning. Leave the unwanted baggage though, it will help in learning. I leave you with a short Zen story…
Two monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up, carried her across the river on his shoulders, and set her down on the other bank. As the monks continued their journey, one of them unable to hold his silence, spoke out, “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up and carried her on your shoulders!”
“Brother,” replied the second monk, “I set her down on the other side long time back, while you are still carrying her.”
Life should be a forward progression and not a backward regression.
President – 2018
STC India Chapter