“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.” – Ambrose Hollingworth Redmoon
Human beings, by our nature, tend to seek out comfort. I’m not talking about luxury goods & services necessarily, although maybe that’s part of it. What we seek out are places and people that make us feel comfortable, or maybe more accurately, don’t make us feel uncomfortable.
That probably goes all the way back to our Neanderthal days. If you’re in the cave, and you have something to eat, and the bears are all ‘out there’, why not stay where you are. As someone who’s not a fan of one-on-one bear confrontations, that makes perfect sense.
But in today’s world, specifically in the context of leadership and our careers, we need to change that mindset. Absolutely no growth whatsoever happens when we’re in our comfort zones. We only grow when we’re forced to, and we’re only forced to when we’re uncomfortable.
Fine, you say, when I’m forced into an uncomfortable situation, I’ll look at it like as a potential learning experience and act accordingly. Great. But I’m not just talking about when you’re forced into it. As leaders, we have to purposefully seek out uncomfortable situations specifically so that we can grow.
Think about your career. What knowledge to you need to attain? How could you seek it out? It can be pretty uncomfortable to admit publicly that you need to learn something. How many questions do we not ask because we don’t want to look stupid?
What relationships do you need to build or improve? There are so many conversations that we say we need to have ‘at some point’, and then 25 years later they’ve never happened. Having challenging conversations is uncomfortable for almost everybody, so we don’t do it. What is it costing you and/or your organization when you don’t have those kinds of conversations?
I’m not suggesting you just randomly run around trying to do things that make you uncomfortable or scare you. Be purposeful. Think about what you should be doing to further your career or help your organization. Why aren’t you doing it? Fear? Desire for comfort? Identify the issue, and then take the leap.
Every success started with somebody overcoming their fear and taking a chance. Intentionally do something today that makes you uncomfortable. Soon it will become habit, and you’ll amaze yourself with what happens next.