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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You Don't Go To Work To Be Comfortable

At my last job at a college library, six months in and one month before I was let go, one of my co-workers asked me if I was comfortable on the job.

I thought this was the stupidest question I’d ever been asked. Why?

I don’t go to work to be comfortable.

Comfortable employees are a sign there’s a problem in a workplace. A big problem from the top down.

When people are comfortable at work they have no incentive to learn new things. To grow in their craft. To get better at what they do, or aspire to be the best in a professional arena.

Comfortable workers stagnate. They have no motivation to try anything new. They don’t want to take risks. They have no passion, no energy, or enthusiasm. They don’t want to do anything that’s out of the routine they’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Comfortable workers are the kind of mediocre people who choke the life out of new employees with their negative energy and make them apathetic. These are the kind of employees whose lack of vision turns a thriving company into dead-end jobs where nothing gets done. In short, comfortable workers are the kind of people who drive businesses out of business.

I don’t go to work to be comfortable. And I don’t want to be comfortable at work. Work is a place where I’m hired to do a job for someone else and get things done for them. It’s a place where I go to compete. To be challenged. To see where I stand in the marketplace compared to others.

If I want to be comfortable I’ll go home.

Why do I want to be uncomfortable at work? Because being uncomfortable on a job makes me adapt to survive there. It makes me learn new skills to become more competitive. When I’m uncomfortable my mind is open to learn new things and take risks. Being uncomfortable gives me the vision to create markets where there are none and travel roads where other people are afraid to go. It makes me step up my game and work towards making it the best it can be.

Professionally, I feel work is a place where I learn how to apply my existing skills and learn new ones so I can take myself to the next level in the next position. I feel if a person isn’t trying to work towards developing the skills to attain the next position they shouldn’t be there.

A comfortable employee is dead weight. They’re a drain on company resources wasting time and money. I feel comfortable people should be sent home permanently so they can relax all day.

In hindsight reading between the lines I see that it was my co-workers weren’t comfortable with me. Complacent people hate competition. They hate those with a drive to do better because it takes them out of their safe place and makes them look like the mediocre employee they are. Moreover, it makes them feel guilty about their own lack of initiative and the lack of progress they've made in their own stalled careers.

Work isn’t about comfort. It’s not about being happy. It’s not supposed to be fun. It’s about doing what you have to do for someone else so you can do the things you need to do for yourself. As Denzel Washington’s character in The Great Debaters said “We do what we have to in order to do what we want to.”

People need to get their heads right about the workplace. Because you don't go to a job to hang out. 

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