Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Great Things Don’t Come From Comfort Zones.

Written by: on October 19, 2019

“The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, secure and at ease. If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”[1]

We’re operating in a world of safety and comfort, where a quick fix mentality prevails, a low threshold for pain that constantly seeks systems relief rather than fundamental change, where people would rather not take responsibility[2]. There is need for a leadership approach that will help us under the prevailing conditions. This is in total contrast to the days in the past that are associated with great achievements like the renaissance when explorers took on discovery journeys that were treacherous and on uncharted paths. their adventures led to many discoveries and inventions that increased knowledge and prosperity. Through the ages, it’s the spirit of adventure and risk taking that brings about progress and problem solving. Friedman[3] attributes many family, corporations and institutional failures in our day to leadership that conforms with safety and conformity, empathizing with the followers rather than a differentiation approach of presence and being.[4]

Friedman points to that leadership that will work in our day as: Having the capacity to get outside the emotional climate of the day; having a willingness to be exposed and vulnerable; persistence in the face of resistance and downright rejection; stamina in the face of sabotage along the way; and Being headstrong and ruthless.[5] These are attributes of a leader who takes responsibility, looks to himself rather than the followers and differentiates himself and focuses more on his presence than with methods and who will excel in our day. This is the kind of leadership that will work in the prevailing conditions our day. That leader is not the one who concentrates on accumulating data but the one who could express himself or herself with the least amount of blaming and the one with the greatest capacity to take responsibility for his or her own emotional being and destiny.

Friedman’s book is not easy to understand but there are great insights that I really appreciate and will apply in my leadership context. This is a book that I will set aside in my library for reference and further reading. It challenges many of my long-held assumptions about leadership and my dependency of methodologies, especially in motivating employees or family members and trying to identify troublemakers. While I still feel that there is place for identifying problems to resolve them and for methodologies, I appreciate the insights that I have learnt from the work of Friedman. As I do my dissertation on Bible based financial literacy for empowering Christians in vulnerable communities, there is a lot to learn from Friedman on the kind of leadership that will produce results in the churches that will adopt the resultant financial literacy curriculum.

[1] Roy T Bennett (2016). The Light In The Heart: Inspirational Thoughts For Living Your Best Life. Roy Bennett Publishers.

[2] Edwin Friedman (2017). A Failure Of Nerve: Leadership In The Age Of The Quick Fix. Church Publishing. New York. USA. Page

[3] Edwin Friedman (2017). A Failure Of Nerve: Leadership In The Age Of The Quick Fix. Church Publishing. New York. USA.

[4] Edwin Friedman (2017). A Failure Of Nerve: Leadership In The Age Of The Quick Fix. Church Publishing. Loc 724, Kindle.

[5] Ibid,….Loc 3713

About the Author

Wallace Kamau

Wallace is a believer in Christ, Married to Mary Kamau (Founder and Executive Director of Missions of Hope International) and father to 3 Wonderful children, Imani Kamau (Graduate student at London School of Economics, UK), Victory Kamau (Undergraduate student at Portland state University, Oregon, USA) and David Kamau ( Grade student at Rosslyn Academy). Founder and Director, Missions of Hope International (www.mohiafrica.org), CPA, BAchelor of Commerce (Accounting) from University of Nairobi, Masters of Arts (Leadership) from Pan African Christian University.

11 responses to “Great Things Don’t Come From Comfort Zones.”

  1. Mario Hood says:

    Love this post Wallace. Great points of reference on “comfort zones”. When thinking about your topic so you see this idea of comfort zones being a key to moving people past the illiteracy they may be facing?

    • Thank you, I see the tendency of people living with so many challenges, giving up and accepting their status quo because of emotional exhaustion. According to Friedman, a leader who is able to self differentiate commands the presence to challenge the status quo and also inspire the followers to believe and work towards for better lives.

  2. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Thank you, Wallace. The warning Friedman presents about our highest value becoming safety is sobering. Safety and comfort certainly can be our natural tendency and requires courage to step out of. I know in the U.S. we don’t like to be uncomfortable nor inconvenienced so this is a particularly important book for our context.

    • Thank you Tammy, it’s so natural to hide in the convenience of the comfort zone. In my context unfortunately, people settle in the comfort zone that is not really “comfortable “, it’s a state of emotional desperation that makes them feel like it’s futile to try anything. Friedman’s book for me is also a God send for I see how by self awareness and self differentiation, I can command the presence to challenge their status quo and inspire them to work towards better lives.

  3. Mary Mims says:

    Wallace, I love the reminder that we have to get out of our comfort zone. I agree that we can use other methods, but this is a good reference for leadership in the ministry context. I am sure it will be useful in your research.

  4. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    I am interested in how Friedman will propel your efforts in providing a Biblical financial literacy curriculum for churches in Africa. Perhaps it will be most helpful to the churches and individuals who need to self-differentiate from long-held anxious beliefs?

    • Thank you Harry’ I agree with you that the churches and leaders have to self differentiate to inspire people to move aware from self defeating beliefs. A lot of the vulnerable people are emotionally exhausted because of the many challenges and frustrations of their daily struggles, they therefore despair into the “comfort zone” that are not really comfortable.
      For me I see a great opportunity in self awareness and self differentiation as the way to command presence and earn the right to use biblical financial literacy to promote economic empowerment.

  5. Sean Dean says:

    One of the strange oxymoronical aspects of American life is that we like to think of ourselves as individuals but will rarely take a risk outside of the group. The comfort zone is our home. This is a good reminder that we must risk the uncomfortable areas to see true growth and success.

  6. Thank you Sean, I realize how easily people become emotionally exhausted in my context because of their daily struggles, they simply despair into their “comfort zones” are not all comfortable. Friedman’s book for me is a great help and I’m adding it to my toolbox. I see in self awareness and self-differentiation the opportunity to command the presence that will give me the right challenge and inspire people to work towards economic empowerment.

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