As I rapidly approach middle age – well OK at 56 maybe I am actually in it – it would be natural to think that I should be able to feel comfortable. So when people talk about getting outside of my comfort zone I wonder why?

It appears that my view of where the comfort zone is is wrong. It wasn’t comfortable climbing Kilimanjaro but it wasn’t especially difficult: I’ve climbed mountains before and Kili, unusually for such a high peak, doesn’t require any skill beyond putting one foot in front of the other; oh and camping, and not having a wash for a week. In other words things that I have done before. (Just to put your mind at rest Macchu Picchu was the other occasion I didn’t wash for a while).

But that’s not what is meant by going outside of your comfort zone. The phrase actually refers to doing something new rather than sticking to the familiar. A fellow member of the ABM talked of making a video rather than filming himself on his phone as getting outside of his comfort zone.

It occurred to me that entrepreneurs usually love getting away from the familiar and trying something new. As an auditor (it was a long time ago) I preferred to go to clients new to our firm where I had to devise the procedures myself, than existing clients where copying last year’s file was the order of the day.

Musing on this I overheard a supermarket cashier talking to another customer about her recent transfer down from management to the familiarity of the till. The phrase that struck me was “I can only do what I can do, and if they don’t like it, then I’m sorry.” To me that’s not just being in the comfort zone but welding handcuffs to it and looping them around your feet as well, just in case anyone tries to get you to change.

None of us are perfect and we all have limitations, but an ability to embrace change is essential for entrepreneurs and very helpful for most of her recruits. This is why I say that when hiring look for attitude rather than ability. Someone who wants to try new things (and doesn’t mind getting it wrong) is far more useful than someone who knows exactly what to do (and won’t ever change because they know that they are right). Even in an established business things change, albeit usually less radically than a new business, and if we don’t change we die. This may be very comfortable (I don’t know I’ve never tried) but it doesn’t look like much fun.

If you have any ideas how to find out if the interviewee is open to change let me know and we’ll post them on the website.