“We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.” – Frank A. Clark
One very noticeable trait of human beings is that we want to be comfortable. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that idea. It probably has its roots all the way back in our days as hunters & gatherers, living in caves. If we were in the cave with a fire and something to eat, that was comfortable. Outside of the cave was where the lions & bears were, and it was cold. That was uncomfortable. Easy choice.
We’re still that way today. People find jobs where they’re comfortable, they work with people in whose company they’re comfortable, they live someplace where they feel comfortable, and on and on. Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Seeking comfort isn’t wrong.
However, we have a tendency to take it too far. Too many people seem to have a goal of eliminating all discomfort from their lives. It’s as though the lifelong goal for most people is to eliminate any situations or activities or people or whatever else that makes them uncomfortable. All comfort all the time.
The problem is that no growth – absolutely none whatsoever – happens inside our comfort zones. If we aren’t challenged, if our beliefs aren’t questioned, if our confidence is never shaken, even a little bit, then we don’t grow. And just like our businesses, if we’re not growing, we’re dying.
Think about yourself as a leader. What is uncomfortable in your career? What are you required to do on a regular basis that makes you uncomfortable? What people are you around regularly that make you uncomfortable? If you can’t come up with anything, that’s a problem.
More likely, there are at least a few people or things that are currently making you uncomfortable. Embrace those people or things. Don’t look for ways to eliminate them from your universe. Be grateful that they’re there. Every time you interact with those people or do those things, ask yourself “What can I learn from this experience? How can I find growth in this situation?”
Being purposefully and enthusiastically uncomfortable is not easy. Sometimes it’s exhausting. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. Sometimes your first reaction is to decide you’re never going to allow yourself to be in that position again. All of that’s OK.
Just make sure that you consistently remind yourself that when you’re uncomfortable, you have a great opportunity for growth, both professionally and personally. Be excited about that opportunity and jump in with both feet.