Cruising = lazy? Not necessarily.
“Hey, you. Why so serious?” – That one colleague who always seems to be “just going with the flow”


noun [ U ] UK  /ˈkruː.zɪŋ/ US  /ˈkruː.zɪŋ/

the activity of going on a journey on a large ship for pleasure, during which you visit several places”

In the context of work, it’s referring to the behaviour of taking things easily or lightly, having low urgency and/or taking things as they go without any particular goal or aspiration.

I have to admit – “cruising” or being in a comfort zone is not all bad as some people declare it to be.

My slightly controversial take is that it should be intentional – not accidental.  Phases of cruising could be a valuable time of respite, reflection – and even celebration! However, staying there fully and indefinitely does have consequences.

For some, stepping into the complete unknown is growth. For others, some semblance of comfort is the exact thing that can help boost you to the next step. This next step of growth must also come with intent – “which mountains do I want to scale?”, “what oceans do I want to dive into?”, “which wave do you want to catch?”, “which slope do you want to jump off?” (have I exhausted my metaphors?) – so that our limited energy can be focused. 

Meeting so many participants from all walks of life, I’ve taken the philosophy of “I am a work in progress” as a guide in helping them navigate situations where team members are hesitant to grow. This could come across as ‘new-agey’ or ‘pop culture-y’, but I’ve learnt to embrace this mentality for myself and for my team in managing and meeting expectations.

We’re never truly “there” as goals evolve and take on different forms as we go through seasons in our lives. 

Understand that success looks different for everyone at different times

We are a composite of the distinct interactions and past experiences that make us unique, thus wired to view success differently. Instead of being tied to the one dimensional view of a career ‘ladder’ and be force-fitted into the typical ideas of ‘bigger role = growth’, considerations towards the individual’s own world view must happen. 

If your blood starts to boil, and you’re indignantly screaming “Do I pander to their every whim and fancy? ”, the shift that I’ve had to learn is to explore possibilities in view of the purpose of the organisation and meaning of work.

I’ve discovered that these tough and transparent conversations allow for both parties to gain fresh perspectives and builds relationships more than any care packages or engagement activities.  

Finding the Red Threads* – your strengths

Most people don’t find their calling in life, or love every aspect of your job. However, identification of your “red threads” / things you love could make a significant difference.

Finding the Red Threads* – your strengths

A Mayo Clinic² research suggests that as long as you can carve out 20% of your effort on areas you find meaning and joy, you can dramatically reduce your risk of burnout, and therefore have more bandwidth to perform at the role.  

What this looks like is a series of dialogues between the leader and team member. It takes time to uncover what’s deeper beyond surface symptoms. Leaders who have had coaching/mentoring conversations must realise how fortunate they have been (as I have) to have had this amount of trust bestowed upon us in this relationship.  

“This is where it gets really uncomfortable for leaders.

As leaders, our approach to team members and their path is as artists; not photostat machines – and churn out copies of yourself.”

It is not about you 

This is where it gets really uncomfortable for leaders. As leaders, our approach to team members and their path is as artists; not photostat machines – and churn out copies of yourself.

With times that are fuelled by dynamism and change, leaders will need willingness and fluidity to get your hands dirty with your team members in their growth journey.

While the ownership for development needs to be done by the “cruising” individual, the leader can influence this – both positively and negatively. The continuous process of calibrating individual’s commitment levels and competence levels is what I mean by “I am a work in progress”.  

Reach out to us to find out more about the Commitment and Competence Matrix that leaders can use as a framework. Maybe read more about Why Situational Leadership Is Important For Managers.

*Special shoutout to Marcus Buckingham for sharing this nugget with me (and thousands of others) at the ATD Conference held in San Diego, California, May 2018.