"We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do". This quote from one of the pioneers of the self-help movement, Dale Carnegie, marked a major change in how people thought about the future. Up until the 1920s, fate and God’s will were the more common explanations for what would become of us. Psychology studies in the USA began to drive the idea that we could control our futures to a much greater degree than we thought, by controlling our thoughts. Not so remarkable today, but this was a brand new idea back then. The problem though is we still haven’t quite found the escape velocity to blast us out of our self-limiting beliefs about ourselves.
The decline in available well paying jobs following on from the Lehman Shock on September 15, 2008 has had a broad impact around the globe. China’s ability to become the factory of the world, has meant that many manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the developed nations. Recent research is telling us that workers are not transitioning seamlessly from one declining industry into other growth sectors.
In Japan, companies found the banks wanted their loaned umbrellas back, at the first spot of rain after the Lehman collapse and so have become fixated on having large reserves of cash and minimum borrowings. Despite profits rising, wages have not risen and to overcome the rigidity in the labor pool mobility here, part-time jobs have grown enormously, offering no great stability and no great pay for the workers involved. The fear of being restructured out of your company if you are part of the aging baby boomer cohort, but with prospect of additional decades of life expectancy (which have not been funded), is causing concerns. Add global extremist terror attacks to the mix and we face a very uncertain future.
In such a scary world, the idea of peaking out from your Comfort Zone and challenging the new doesn’t look so attractive. We may have had the benefit of decades of the self-improvement industry pushing us all to be better and do better, but the reality is we are not purpose bent on discovering our unheralded possibilities. Instead we are searching for security in a very unsecure world. We have gone back to looking outside for solutions, rather than trying to discover what lies inside ourselves. We are now privy to previously unthinkable, instant, vast, global, information 24/7, but we don’t feel much better for it. Belief in fate and God’s will have not made particular comebacks as alternate explanations, but belief in our own possibilities is also flagging.
We need to re-immerse ourselves in the world of possibility, to re-read ancient and modern wisdom about our potential. We need to find that escape velocity to project ourselves beyond our Comfort Zone. If we keep doing the same things, in the same way, we will keep getting the same results. Einstein defined insanity as repeating the same things but expecting a different outcome. So staying in our Comfort Zone, but expecting to do better is basically a crazy idea. The problem is how do you get out of your Comfort Zone and find the strength to move forward, especially in this highly uncertain, fast paced and challenging high tech world.
Dale Carnegie came up with an answer that works. Through experimentation, observation and adaption he found ways of challenging people, using bite sized pieces, that would gradually expand their Comfort Zone but not blow it up. The process involved taking practical ideas and getting people to act on them immediately. It also involved providing feedback that was only positive and encouraged people to keep pushing forward. That process became known as the Dale Carnegie Course. Like so many people, when I took the course, I was kicking myself for not having taken it when I was much younger.
We can do things we haven’t dreamt are possible, but we don’t have to work it all out by ourselves. We can follow what already works and get the benefit of all that kaizen built up over ten decades. If we want to grow our Comfort Zone we need a proven method and this Dale Carnegie course definitely works. Try it!