Don't get too comfortable with who you are at any given time - you may miss the opportunity to become who you really want to be. Jon Bon Jovi
How many times do you avoid crucial conversations that you need to have just because you know they’ll be uncomfortable for you? I get great anxiety over things that I know have to be said and sometimes I worry about them for days and weeks. Sometimes even when I have the conversation I don’t say all that I want to because I am afraid or anxious about fully voicing difficult matters. Inevitably though when they are over, and all has been said, I feel better for it and I can move in. You see, once you start riding your feelings of discomfort, those difficult conversations become much easier. If you can embrace discomfort in your life and work, you can begin to achieve anything you want to.
The 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon once said that Easy roads make sleepy travellers… And the truth is of course that many of us prefer the easy road, simply because, well, it is easy. The easy path however, and this is my point here, is not always the right path. Tony Robbins who I don’t quote from nearly enough here, sums it up when he points out that All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone. Unquote.
Life is not only about creating safety and security and pursuing contentment, although these things are important. But by focusing only on the comfort side of life, we cut ourselves off from the full range of human experience—and the knowledge, skills, and empathy that come with the other side.
In an article for Psychology today Bob Rosen Ph.D. says that humans possess a natural inclination to stick with the status quo, resist the unknown, and to stay comfortable. It’s tied to our ancestral drive to survive, he says, and it makes us afraid to try new things. I’d also add that it stops us as our lives proceed, from trying things we used to do but which we have fallen out of the habit of doing. We avoid change, dodge the uncomfortable and as a result we don’t push ourselves to the next level and miss out on things that could benefit us. In today’s fast moving world, if we want to stay on top, we must reprogram our instincts and become comfortable being uncomfortable.
When you only play safe, refuse to take risks and stay steer clear of difficult situations you fail to challenge yourself or others, to greater performance and a better life. Floating through life without purpose or drive or focus is the antithesis of productivity and success. We are back again at what I talk of in episode one and in previous episodes this season. High level thinking. This is just something else that you can learn to control.
High level thinkers recognize and accept that change is inevitable and use their self-awareness to assess where they are and where they want to go and they use their personal power to get there, but most of us lie somewhere on the spectrum of high to low personal power. Becoming more self-aware and conscious will move you on the way to higher personal power and a greater ability to embrace change.
Here are some tips on how to embrace the uncomfortable. I saw a lot of recommendations online for this but the best information came from an article by Sujan Patel in Forbes magazine. I quote from that article here often: it says…
First Get a clear head - Sometimes all you really need to do to gain focus and minimize discomfort is to do a brain dump. Get your ideas out of your head onto paper where you can physically see them. That helps to relieve and clear your mind. Regular listeners to the show will know that this is something I recommend often, and that I favour white boards for this practice. This is always a good place to start. If you can become aware of what you are thinking by sifting through your thoughts as they lie written in front of you, you can ask yourself questions like: Is this true? How do you know? And get to the truth of the matter at hand.
In his book Linchpin; Are You Indispensable, Seth Godin writes, “Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you're doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they're hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more.”
The next recommendation is that you must Identify the source of your discomfort and what they are talking about here is quite likely to be some form of anxiety. It might be completely evident to you what the source of your discomfort is. What you may not be able to immediately recognize is why you’re feeling the way you are. What is it about the situation that’s triggering the feelings? Are you terrified of technology or of talking to new people? Are you frightened about learning new things? Forbes talks in business terms in the article I am referring to but again I urge you to embrace this type of thinking if you are a creative professional. Change can be a difficult pill to swallow for anyone, especially when the business you started – that’s been operating just fine and growing – suddenly needs to adapt. This of course takes us right back to the flexibility I discussed in the first episode of this season. If you can identify the source of your discomfort, you can begin to tackle that problem.
Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology, says, “It’s not our failures that determine our future success, but how we explain it to ourselves.”
Forbes next suggests that you reflect. You must think about another time when something you did brought up similar feelings of discomfort. How did that play out for you? Did you ignore it until it became a huge issue? Did you feel better once it was resolved? Learn from these experiences. This is your opportunity to celebrate the small wins you previously had, and remind yourself of the growth that came from a previously uncomfortable situation.
“I’ve never heard a millionaire entrepreneur say they hit it right the first time out,” says Steve Siebold, whose book How Rich People Think, is a culmination of 30 years of interviews. “The bigger they are, the more they’ve typically failed.” I often listen to podcast interviews with successful people and millionaires etc. What comes across almost every time is how often these successful people failed before they finally came out on top.
They learn from their failures to counter discomfort, move forward, and finally take the plunge, despite feelings of uncertainty and doubt. So you must think of failure as an asset. It’s a natural inclination to long for knowledge and answers so you understand how to better run your business – and know what to avoid. As long as you’re learning from your mistakes, then you are moving in the right direction.
Finally Sujan Patel urges you to Take the plunge. If you feel uncomfortable, then you’re ultimately doing something right, but toe dipping outside of your safe space never really gets things moving. You need to dive in head-on and fully immerse yourself. That might be more stressful, but there’s no better way to get the process going so you move beyond that one thing holding you back. Look back to, is it episode 8 on the 5 second rule, if you have trouble taking that first step, that plunge.
Mark Zuckerberg says, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks.”
When you get serious about productivity in your life and work and career you soon become aware of a common mantra which relates to this. There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable will help you to manage difficult emotions and embrace difficult situations.
Not all discomfort is a good thing, but intelligently choosing your risks with a higher level of thinking will put you in control of them. Ultimately, you have to find the courage, awareness, and understanding that will allow you to see problems and hurdles for what they really are: opportunities to grow and learn.
Thanks for joining me here today and investing in yourself here once again. If you have enjoyed the show I‘d be very grateful if you would take the time to leave a rating or a review perhaps on whatever app you use to listen to your podcasts on. That’s the one thing that really makes a difference to podcast listener numbers and bumps this show up in the rankings at the same time. I really appreciate your listening whether you are a long time follower of the podcast or this is your first time hearing what I have to say.
Today’s sponsor is 6ft From The Spotlight who I’ve been following on twitter for a while now. I even have the wee notification button hit on them too as they are always posting terrific stuff. They provide training for crew in the positive management of mental health and well being on productions as well as helping productions improve the mental health of crew through practical initiatives including providing a Wellbeing Facilitator. Check out 6ftfrom.org if you’d like to find out more. I was really pleased when Matt reached out to sponsor a show as it’s they are doing great things. I’ll put links in the show notes.
Next week’s episode is part one in a two part series about a book you will all have heard of How To Win Friends And Influence People. I hope you will join me again for that.
I’ll end with a quote from M. Scott Peck, the psychiatrist who wrote the best best-selling book "The Road Less Travelled". He said: The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!
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