“Comfortable is a word I would choose to describe an old sofa.
Sadly, many people in business see it as a destination.”

I decided I needed to improve my writing skills and joined a writing class. One of the exercises we were given was to write about something we disliked (the goal was to help us use emotion to express our points).

So in thinking about this, one of the most frustrating things I see after 30 years helping leaders launch and drive change is the number of employees who are disengaged.

This disconnection is created over time and becomes a learned behavior, a learned hopelessness. My hypothesis is it is created or at least fostered by leaders who get to a “comfortable state” and encourage their peers and subordinates to “stay the course” which really means – “don’t rock the boat”.

So here is my essay entitled: “The Frozen Fraternity”

It would not be so tragic and infuriating if those with that state of mind could pass us by like ships in the night with few ripples and no wake to disturb those of us who aspire to greatness.

Distressingly, much of the time, these average denizens of the corporate world hold sway over the fate of the majority within the business fraternity.

You see, they rise up the organization like bubbles in a cold soda.  They are nothing special, they just floated up over time, careful not to move too fast lest they burst, and not too slowly that they bump into another and are consumed by one with a higher purpose.

They creep unnoticed to the top. Once there, they do not effervesce or move on as the natural order would require.

Instead they cling way past their natural shelf life blocking the path to the top for the aspiring geniuses beneath them. They lack fizz and never know that transformative delight of the pop where they cease to be bound by mundane liquid and experience the higher state of a gas, free to explore a wider world.

James Watt was the antithesis of these happy and ambitious souls. He launched the Industrial Revolution by making radical changes to the steam engine, coining the term “horsepower”.

The unit of power, the Watt was named after him.

He’d be disgusted by some of today’s leaders who exhibit as much wattage as a worn out, twenty year old lightbulb, whose heyday was decades past.

I see the creeping and insidious plague that befalls human curiosity and desire. That childlike ambition we have in our youth, fades slowly over time as they are taught not to rock the boat by their superiors. They become disenchanted, disengaged, disaffected and finally give way to a numbing despair.

No-it is not the job of leaders to be comfortable.

They are the custodians of the innate talent beneath them that need to be unleashed and cultivated like a beautiful rose garden.

So should someone in business who is in a leadership position tell you they are comfortable I would urge you grab them by their lapels and shake them hard until the sawdust that is between their ears is forced out and lays on their shoulders like a hippy with a bad case of dandruff.

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