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Understanding your personal strengths and weaknesses, both in business and in life, can have a major impact on whether or not you are successful in attaining your goals.

Emergenetics is based upon this idea—we employ a scientific and data-driven process to take the complex workings of your brain and put them into a framework of self-awareness and understanding, as well as a window for others to see where your natural tendencies and preferences lie (and to see what may not come as naturally to you).

For any organization, it comes down to maximizing output—whether in widgets or people—and to do this successfully requires maximizing the full spectrum of people’s genetic predispositions and the environment around them. This hits at key performance drivers, all of which are related to employee understanding:

  1. Understanding personal strengths and challenges.
  2. Capitalizing on unique, inherent strengths.
  3. Minimizing challenge areas and looking for solutions to overcome them.
  4. Getting out of the comfort zone of strengths and into a change-ready atmosphere dominated by understanding and action.

Just employing the first will improve performance, but creating a mentality to face challenge areas creates new individual and organizational skill sets.

Practically, it means looking at an Emergenetics Profile differently, not merely asking “what am I suited for?,” but rather, “how can I utilize preferences to attack and minimize challenge areas?” This is harder, of course; getting out of one’s comfort zone is never easy, and these issues are often aggravated by pressure to perform and reach organizational goals.

This article by renowned business author John Kotter speaks on the importance for businesses, particularly for their leadership, to step out of their comfort zones, to be adaptable to change and to view organizational challenges and possible solutions in more innovative ways.

On a personal level, if the comfort zone encompasses certain thinking and behavioral preferences and patterns, stepping outside that zone means bringing in those ways of thinking that are a bit foreign, a bit outside the go-to mentality.

The real question for employees or leaders then becomes how, as in, “How am I supposed to become better at the things that do not come naturally to me?”

It may very well begin with exposure to those who think differently. Since organizations function through teamwork, this is one of many benefits to creating groups that have diverse thinking and behavioral styles represented in their members.

Simply being around those who think differently from you, however, is not enough to create real and lasting growth. The only way to do this is to recognize what you can improve on and begin to force yourself to think about and handle things in ways outside of your natural inclination. And this approach can and should span the entire spectrum of thinking preferences and behavioral tendencies.

Here are some tips to break out of your comfort zone:

  • For Structural thinkers – Do not simply follow an existing set of process steps as they are laid out – look them over and seek inefficiency and redundancy in the way things are done. In this way you are building your Analytical and Conceptual skills.
  • For Analytical thinkers – Learn to approach uncertain situations with confidence; even if no data exists, you can evaluate the idea from a purely conceptual and logical standpoint. This allows you to strengthen your Conceptual skills.
  • For Conceptual thinkers – When you think of novel ideas, take that extra step and brainstorm the smaller steps necessary to turn your vision into a reality. This will help you build your Structural skills.
  • For Social thinkers – Remember to take into account the bottom line in your evaluation of ideas, and find ways to reconcile the numbers with the human element. This will aid in building your Analytical skills.
  • Those on the gregarious side of the Expressiveness spectrum should keep in mind that listening to others ideas is just as important as making your thoughts known.
  • Those on the quiet side of Expressiveness should think about ways to communicate your ideas in different ways to make a mark within organizations and meetings.
  • Those on the driving side of the Assertiveness spectrum should remember to be mindful of your drive and to be willing to step back from pushing issues stubbornly and approach them in different ways.
  • The peacekeepers (opposite end of the Assertiveness spectrum) can think about being more willing to stand up for an idea if you feel that it has real value.
  • Those on the highly adaptive side of the Flexibility spectrum have to remember to look at ideas with a critical eye and not adopt every new idea you see.
  • Lastly, those on the more focused side of the Flexibility scale must be willing to give ideas that exist outside of their comfort zone a chance and keep an open mind. This will help you avoid missing out on real opportunities.

While tips like these may not turn your challenges into bona fide strengths, they can help you adapt and grow in unfamiliar situations. It is a good start to getting out of your comfort zone, but there are ideas and tactics to be added all the time.

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