Getting Comfortable Versus Getting Lazy

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At a recent AIGA event, I hosted two roundtables with professionals at different stages of their careers. Questions around leadership inevitably come to the foreground — especially for those folks who are in the rising stage of their careers.

The topic of being in the same organization for a long time and feeling “comfortable” came up. I had a negative reaction to the state of being comfortable, but luckily an attendee voiced their strong disagreement with me — that there’s nothing wrong with being comfortable. The example that they gave is how they’ve been at the same company for 13 years, and have enjoyed working at a place that makes them feel comfortable.

A different attendee jumped in and pointed out that working at the same place can sometimes make you almost too comfortable. For that reason, this person left their comfortable job to take on a new challenge, and benefited from the growth that they acquired.

It struck me then that the word “comfortable” can have negative connotations when it implies that you’ve become complacent and you’re no longer challenged. And for that reason, you’ve gotten comfortable — in a bad way.

However, what the other attendee was expressing was their feeling that you can be comfortable and still challenged. And not lazy at all — just hitting your stride and doing the best work of your life and feeling the comfort of knowing you’re on the best path imaginable.

I thought this definition to be a useful new entry for my dictionary of life, because I had simplistically equated “comfortable” as meaning “lazy.” Wow — I have been so wrong! I had overgeneralized, and I am super glad to be corrected now.

So, I’m much more comfortable with comfortable now (wink). —JM

PS looked the word up after a fellow on Twitter prompted me to do so:

From the English word comfort, ultimately from Latin confortare “to strengthen greatly”, a derivative of fortis “strong.”

V nice learnings on a Sunday 🙂