The Law of the Rubber Band – Growth Stops When You Lose the Tension Between Where You Are and Where You Could Be
Comfort zone is the enemy of growth.
This law is all about venturing outside our comfort zone. Before getting started, let’s remember that comfort zone is not the equivalent of strength zone. The comfort zone is what we have gotten accustomed to do. The strength zone represents the skills we are great at.
I’ll use a story to illustrate this law.
During my 8 years of pricing experience I went from a supporting role to a leadership role. During the first stage I got very comfortable working with and talking about pricing models, populating bid forms, methodology, and how they all came together. My audience was mainly other actuaries.
As I moved towards a leadership role the focus changed from me to we to others. I was having to worry about staff development, training materials, strategy development, and presenting to external customers of many different backgrounds. I was no longer building tools but guiding how the tools were built and what methodology should be used. I went from actively producing to guiding the production.
- The Comfort Zone (Stage 1)
- In the first phase I got used to handling all the pricing tools, populating models, working alone, and discussing concepts with other actuaries.
- Very good handle of how all the pricing tools came together.
- Got accustomed to communicating findings to peers, and training them.
- I knew my job well, I was comfortable.
- The Stretch (Stage 2)
- Individual contribution to managing others.
- Internal (peers) vs. External customers.
- Thinking about me vs. team vs. others needs.
- The Strength Zone
- Communication and simplification of concepts
- Training and developing others
- Understanding the big picture
- Customization of messaging and adapting to different audience.
The key thing to remember from the story is that my success came from having the opportunity of using my strengths (connectedness, communication, learner, and individualization) in both roles but with a different flavor. The transition from me to we to others expanded my understanding of the business and gave me a different perspective. I could have easily chosen to stay an individual contributor but I took a chance that got me into this leadership journey.
As leaders we should always look for ways to take our strengths to a new level and force ourselves to think in different ways. At the same time, we must find ways to stretch the people we lead. We must be the hand that keeps the tension going.
Is there still tension in your band or is it time to start stretching?