Last week I was running a strategy session with 2 partners of a CPA firm. The following conversation took place:

Me: As you told me, your business does $2.1M in revenue with a $700K profit or $350K each. You’re both doing client work of around 1,500 hours per year each. Take it out 3 years what do you want this business to look like?

Bill (not real name): I am pretty comfortable where I am at. I like the work and the $350K per year is a comfortable living me for me. I’m 62 years old and I’d like to retire in 8 years time.

Chris (not real name): I am not happy where I am at. I’d like double my income and work a lot less.

Me: Well the first issue we have is Partner alignment. Unless you’re on the same page with where you want to take the business then anything I suggest will be a waste of time. One of you is comfortable with the income level and the work load. The other wants double and work a lot less. To make progress you need a healthy discontent for the present. You need to be uncomfortable now to motivate you to make changes.

BTW – this business had a heap of potential with existing clients under-served, new markets to attack and a load of inefficiencies to capitalize on.

Bill: I’m just not that motivated. My life is pretty good. I have assets on the side so why change.

Me: Here’s what’s going to happen. My process is going to bring you together or break you up – there will be no in between. If you can get closely aligned then what I do will work exceptionally well. Come back to me after you’ve had a solid conversation with each other with what you both want.

End of meeting.

I could have facilitated the ‘alignment’ meeting however I felt they could do it on their own. They would be perfect for my coaching program if they were aligned.

After the meeting I got thinking about being comfortable and being uncomfortable. I started thinking about the 434 Accounting firms I’ve already coached where I helped add >$850M in profit to them. The ones that succeeded the fastest were the ones who were most uncomfortable. They were uncomfortable that their clients where not getting the level of service they deserved. They were uncomfortable that they were not charging enough for what they did. They were uncomfortable that their business did not work as well as it possibly could.

I meet a lot of Partners of Accounting firms who are like Bill – they’re comfortable. And that’s a problem.

Here’s what Bob Riggs has to say about being in the comfort zone.

“Many of us have established a comfort zone in our lives. We’re just coasting along taking the path of least resistance, and just getting by. This is a very common and understandable attitude. We’ve all worked hard to get where we are and it may seem a good place to be. The problem with this is that once we stop reaching, stretching, seeking and risking, we actually stop growing. The comfort zone frame of mind is settling for what we are TODAY. That may be fine today, but without continued growth, WE ARE NOW ALL WE ARE EVER GOING TO BE. If you’re in a comfort zone, beware – the danger of a comfort zone is that it doesn’t hurt, and it may even feel good.”

Bob is right on the money.

You see, the problem with being comfortable is this:

Comfort creates apathy which leads to lack of innovation which leads to stagnation which leads to lack of progress. You know what happens next!

Having a healthy discontent for the present is a good thing. You’re always looking for a better way. You’re always looking for innovation. The next idea. The next strategy.

Is it time for you (or someone you know) to get uncomfortable and try something new?