Greg McAfee
Greg McAfee

We are wired to seek comfort; as a result, much of our life is focused around familiar patterns and habits. When we purchase a chair, it’s not just a chair but a lazy recliner. When we choose a bed, it’s a double plush pillow top so we sleep in comfort.

At times we crave comfort foods such as steak, chocolate, and ice cream. When we are in pain or discomfort, we are given medicine to help us feel more comfortable. Alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs are consumed to avoid reality and provide temporary comfort.

We listen to music that calms us. We decorate our homes, enjoy fake wood-burning gas logs, and paint rooms certain colors all to be more comfortable. We drive vehicles that have remote start, heated and cooled seats, computerized suspension, and dual comfort controls so we are more comfortable driving.

We buy pants, belts, and skirts with comfort stretch bands. We pay a hundred dollars for gel inserts to place in shoes to give our feet more comfort. And when we get home at the end of the day, we put on our comfy clothes.

Not only do we surround ourselves with comfort, we are in the comfort business. Our job is to keep people comfortable. We service and install HVAC equipment that does just that. Is there really any other appliance that controls comfort like a furnace or air conditioner?

Yet while we go to great lengths to avoid being uncomfortable, that avoidance strategy is a killer when it comes to making the changes needed for business growth and success. We know how to keep our customer’s indoor environment at comfortable levels, but we find it very difficult to regulate our own.

Author and motivational speaker Craig Harper said, “There is a positive correlation between how uncomfortable an individual is prepared to get and their likelihood of success — irrespective of the field of endeavor.”

To become a more successful HVAC contractor, I recommend that you change three areas of your life where you are likely far too comfortable.

Personal Growth

You have to keep growing and changing because what got you here won’t keep you here. One way to do that is by reading.

How many books do you read a year? Reading helps improve the way we think. Sure, it’s a lot easier to just surf the web, watch the news, or maybe go golfing, but if we were to replace some of that with reading we would see results.

Former Ohio State Buckeye, two-time All American and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Chris Spielman did what others weren’t willing to do. After a game, when most went out celebrating, Spielman could be found in the weight room working out. Spielman knew what it took to be the best. Do we?

Quite often I’ll grab one of my many business books off the shelf in my office and read just a few paragraphs. My mind will then go to work on a particular thought or suggestion that I need to improve on. I read a lot about leaders and recall that President George W. Bush read over 100 books during his last year in office. If the president of the United States feels he needs to read that much, how much more do we need to read?

Tom Peters, a noted business author and management thinker, has suggested that A-level leaders out-read B and C players by reading on average 24 books per year. We are never smart enough to know it all on our own and must constantly improve.

If we are just watching more TV in our comfy clothes, then we are probably not seeing the business results that we could see. Some book topics to challenge you include self-improvement, leadership, marketing, branding, sales, team building, and dreaming big.

Business Growth

You’ve worked hard and experienced growth, but have now become satisfied and gotten comfortable and may not even realize it. A comfort zone is a mental blockage in the mind where we feel safe and secure. Think back to when you started or purchased your business. Did you feel safe, secure, and comfortable? Heck no! If you were like me, you were scared to death. I didn’t know much about business and the fear of failing kept me moving. I read as much as I could to succeed.

Twenty-odd years later, it would be easy to coast for a while. But remember that when we coast, we’re going downhill. Coasting will put us out of business before we know it.

So how do we remove that mental blockage? First, recognize you have it and then start changing your thinking. Dream about the future and put together a leadership strategy meeting. List your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) and decide as a team where you want to be in the next one, three, and five years. If you don’t have a leadership team, put one together now. If you are a much smaller company, consider hiring a business coach to help you.

During tough economic times, we tend to believe that we should hunker down and maintain status quo. So we reduce our marketing and advertising, we eliminate buying any new equipment, and we put a freeze on hiring. Then, we convince ourselves that this is temporary and things will get back to normal soon. Normal? I have some news for us; we will never get back to the way things were.

Yesterday is gone and this is the new normal. The leading businesses continue to increase their marketing and advertising, put training plans in place, purchase new equipment, and hire more qualified people. These businesses not only survive, but they continue to thrive in any economy.

Developing Others

How many people have you mentored or personally trained during the last year? Developing people should be seen as an investment, not a cost.

When identifying levels of leadership, speaker and author John C. Maxwell has said that good leaders invest their time, energy, money, and thinking into growing others as leaders. They look at every person and try to gauge his or her potential to grow and lead — regardless of the individual’s title, position, age, or experience. According to Maxwell, every person is a potential candidate for development. This practice of identifying and developing people compounds the positives of their organization, because bringing out the best in a person is often a catalyst for bringing out the best in the team. Developing one person for leadership and success lays the foundation for developing others for success.

I completely agree with this philosophy because winning companies have multiple leaders who constantly sense change, excite others about change, and implement change faster than their competitors, which eliminates the chance of getting comfortable and gives them the winning advantage.

Let’s face it: Developing others requires an investment of our time and money, which is why we tend to avoid it. In my new book, It’s My Your Dream, I wrote about having a teachable spirit. If we are not teachable, it’s more difficult for us to develop and pass on certain skills that others need. We must not hoard what we know, but rather share it. When we retire, we won’t remember what we did in the first quarter of 2012, or the third. However, we will remember how many people we developed and helped along the way.

If you are willing to get uncomfortable and develop yourself and others, then your business will naturally take off.

Publication date: 01/23/2012