Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fear and Comfort

One thing I learned early on in my consulting practice is that the individuals and organizations who are in greatest need of training or coaching are the least likely to request it.

Just as extraordinary performers train, practice, and train some more, so too do extraordinary organizations. They are not afraid to entertain the possibility that other approaches might be as good or even better than their customary practices; indeed, like bold explorers, they relish the thought of finding an unknown shore.

A common characteristic of people and organizations who are closed to development is fear. They may believe that improvement is a reproach; a criticism of prior conduct. They may have been clearly told that new ideas are unwelcome and the best way to keep out of harm's way is to stay invisible. It is difficult to dispute their view of reality because in some dysfunctional organizations there is a reasonable basis for such fear. That does not, of course, excuse the decision to permit the organization's limitations to restrict personal development. Building personal strength can be one of the first steps toward escape.

There is another possibility that is sometime seen. Fear is absent but all ambition has been subdued by comfort. That might be the most dangerous state of all.


Deron Schriver said...

More great insight! If you ever make your way to the Baltimore and/or Philadelphia areas, I'd love to treat you to a latte and lunch and pick your brain about the organizational behavior issues you've encountered during your travels. Your blog has provided more value to me than my MBA!

Michael Wade said...


Beware! I may take you up on that offer.

I'm glad that the blog has helped. We've probably run across many of the same problems.