Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from the blog of Dave Wendland, VP, strategic relations at Hamacher Resource Group and Forbes Council Member. The article first appeared on Forbes.com.

One of my favorite quotes is usually credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” The same can be said for a business.

A primary way to accelerate decision-making, rethink strategies and drive transformation is to move out of your comfort zones.

The comfort zone is the known, the familiar. It’s our default and what we can do automatically, without too much thought or difficulty. It feels comfortable, sheltered, reliable and pleasant, while keeping us out of danger. It’s also where we seldom need to try especially hard or expend much energy.

Extending beyond one’s comfort zone is not for the faint of heart. It takes intentional effort. Here are four ways to think differently.

  1. Take a new route. I like to think of it similarly to Robert Frost’s famous words: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” The discovery along this new pathway can open your imagination, provide new points of reference and free your mind up to invite new knowledge in.
  2. Read voraciously. It doesn’t have to be a book about your industry or leadership or any other business topic. Simply expanding your thinking with fresh words and different circumstances allows you to stretch beyond your comfort zone.
  3. Meditate. I have found that sitting quietly and granting myself permission to just be still is not only refreshing but also enlightening. Breaking away, in any way you can, opens your ability to invite invigorating thoughts in.
  4. Build your network. Learning from others and broadening your network can certainly pave the way to creativity.

My last piece of advice is to solicit ideas from your staff members. They likely have more firsthand knowledge about what changes will actually improve their jobs or enhance your deliverables. Don’t dismiss ideas that don’t come from the top. Gathering ideas from all levels of your organization can further push it outside of its comfort zone and inspire you to accelerate growth.


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