Whether we notice it or not, we live in a VERY comfortable society. There is so much available to us at a click of a button that we really don’t need to get off the couch or leave our home…
Food, clothing, and entertainment can be quickly or instantly delivered, and all you have to worry about is whether your fingers cramp up while clicking your remote or typing on your smartphone.
Don’t get me wrong – these comforts can be great and help us shift the time we would spend on these things towards more productive efforts, but they can also enable us to sink deeper and deeper into the sofa.
It’s a fine line and a slippery slope – one that can quickly lead us down a path towards complacency and feeling that where we are is ‘good enough’, thereby seeking out more and more comforts. However if we want to become our best we need to live and think differently.
The alternative? Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
It is easy for all of us to get caught up in the comforts of modern society. It’s even easier to give into our fears and not take big risks when our lives our humming along on cruise control. I’ve been guilty of giving into fear, and not taking advantage of all the opportunities (the risk and potential reward) when they’ve prevented themselves… but I’m getting better.
I’ve made big strides over the past six months to continually put myself in uncomfortable positions that I know will help me grow and push my boundaries. What’s one example? Well… you’re reading it!
If I’m being perfectly honest, writing this blog makes me uncomfortable every single week. Regardless of how many people read the words, I’m putting myself out there in the form of my thoughts, beliefs and feelings which makes me feel vulnerable and at times self-conscious.
What will people think? Will they agree or disagree with what I’m saying? Will they look at my story and think I have no business speaking about these things? The list goes on, and I could give into those fears and doubts – I could choose comfort, but I refuse.
Regardless of the questions and thoughts that run through my head, I gain courage each week. I find more of my voice, and define and strengthen my leadership, passion and purpose. It’s scary but I grow more after each post. Each topic and writing exercise forces me to dig deep into these things that have been on my mind for a long time. Most importantly, I continue to believe that by embracing this discomfort I will reach people who can find value in what I write, and help them take one additional step towards building their best self.
So I will continue to put comfort aside and do my part to make a positive impact in the world around me.
Dominate You Comfort Zone
The beautiful thing about our lives is the ability to choose – we can choose to be average, or we can choose to be great. The choice is ours, but let’s remember:
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ― Neale Donald Walsch
I strongly believe that pushing yourself beyond your limits and embracing your ‘discomfort zone’ will create so many excellent growth opportunities and expand your realization of what is possible.
While it is never easy to step outside of what is familiar, safe, and predictable, I am building and encouraging that voice in my head that continues to nudge me to do the things that scare me. Things that I know will be good for me, and help me continue on my path for growth, personal / professional development, and becoming an all around better person (husband, father, colleague, son, brother, etc.).
While pushing myself over the past few months since launching Will Athletic, I’ve realized some key benefits to operating outside of my comfort zone that I want to share below.
Discomfort prevents complacency
As I’ve stated several times before, complacency is the enemy. Becoming too comfortable in your current phase of life increases the temptation to settle for ‘good enough’ rather than continuing to set stretch goals and push your bounds.
By operating outside of your comfort zone and realizing the benefits of continually pushing yourself, something great begins to happen – the fear of inaction becomes greater than the fear of taking risks and pushing your limits. Never settle for who you are today – find a new way to become 1% better.
No complacency, no regrets – live your life to the fullest.
Discomfort creates opportunity
We see it all the time whether at work or in the world around us. The people that take big risks and big actions stand out and make an impact. Do they fail sometimes? Sure!
Personally, I respect their willingness to put themselves out there no matter the result. Also, let me be clear – we don’t have to swing for the fences every single time.
This discomfort zone could be as simple as questioning the way things have always been done in a meeting at work, or by applying for a job, or perhaps disagreeing (respectfully) with a peer, boss or someone several levels above you in the organization.
Whether you make contact or swing and miss, people will take notice and respect you for it. Those risks and actions spark opportunities for advancement and growth. And let’s never forget:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky
Discomfort increases the realm of what is possible
When you push your limits and break past what you know or thought you could do, your realm of possibilities increases, and you have a whole new level of limits to push through from there.
All it takes is looking for examples throughout history.
- There was a time when running a mile under 4 minutes was impossible – until someone did..
- Man could never fly to and walk on the moon – until they did.
- The sun revolved around the earth – until people proved the total opposite.
Challenge what you’ve always accepted as true or deemed possible.
Become more and more inquisitive in all aspects of your life – ask questions.
Just because things were always done a certain way doesn’t mean it is still the best way (or ever was). Just because people said something would ‘never work’ doesn’t mean it won’t. And just because you said there was no way you could ever do something doesn’t mean you are just as wrong.
If someone says you can’t do something, even if it is your own voice in your head, take a shot at proving them wrong.
Discomfort is the catalyst for growth
Remaining comfortable doesn’t generate growth. At most, it further entrenches itself in your mind as all you need. Remaining comfortable elevates the importance of further safety and security at the expense of greatness and what can be possible if you push yourself.
If there is a single ounce of you that wants more for yourself than what you currently have (and no, I’m not talking about wanting more ‘stuff’), then get yourself in that discomfort zone and grow! Maybe it’s going back to school? Maybe it’s signing up for Toastmasters to become better at public speaking? Maybe it’ turning off the TV and going for a walk to begin building a better body. Whatever it is, put comfort aside, embrace the fear, put yourself under pressure, and know that there is a better version of you on the horizon.
A diamond is a chunk of coal that is made good under pressure.” – Henry A. Kissinger
Discomfort defeats discomfort
As we push ourselves, we will quickly learn that what once made us uncomfortable no longer does…
So in a way, by advocating for putting ourselves into uncomfortable situations, we are actually increasing what is comfortable to us overall! Taking on the things that make you uncomfortable will eventually create new skills, capabilities, and strengths – thus eliminating the discomfort.
Also, making the decision to put yourself in uncomfortable situations will build your resolve and fortitude for when you are forced into a difficult situation that was not of your choosing. By constantly challenging yourself and pushing your limits of what you believed to be possible, you will build a greater confidence in knowing that you will get through any obstacle and become a better version of yourself when you come out the other end.
The Road Ahead
We live in an incredible time, and should enjoy all the great things (and comforts) that are available to us.
But let’s not let the drive and hunger be eroded.
Let’s not consider ‘discomfort’ a bad word.
Let’s continue to push ourselves to new levels of greatness and enjoy the journey and all the fun along the way.
The idea of pushing my limits and operating in the realm of uncomfortable is exciting. I already have two major endeavours ahead of me this coming year that are both exciting and scary.
It is my goal in 2018 to push my physical limits by taking a run at the Spartan Race Trifecta – a series of 3 different races that range from the 3-5 mile / 20+ obstacle Spartan Sprint that I completed in September to a 12-14 mile / 30+ obstacle Spartan Beast. For someone who only ran 5 miles once in his life at a high school track practice, the task feels daunting. However, I know I will redefine what I believe is physically possible for myself when I succeed!
Outside of the physical / body side, I will be beginning a Professional Coaching Cohort this coming Spring. I’ve been very fortunate to have a professional coach over the past 2 years, and I’ve experienced the benefits and growth potential first hand. So when an opportunity came up to learn the tools, techniques, and methods to help others through coaching, I jumped! I know the types of exercises and learning activities will be very uncomfortable to me. However I know the benefits I will gain in terms of redefining my personal brand of leadership, increasing my coaching tools, and improving my overall mindset will allow me to make a tremendous impact at home, at work, with Will Athletic, and beyond.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Discussion Question: What is one thing you can do this week that makes you uncomfortable and by doing it can begin to take you to your next level?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."