I once received a great piece of advice from a friend. He said that It’s not smart to get too comfortable.
I did not get it, and I had to ask him what he meant. He told me that when anyone becomes too comfortable, they avoid risk. The problem with that is that risking failure is a requirement of success in any area of life. Feeling vulnerable, unsure, and uncomfortable is an essential part of breaking new ground and creating new initiatives. You can’t have one without the other.
He was right. It is very uncomfortable to change. Trying new things can be excruciating. It’s unbearable to face failure, and it’s challenging to feel rejection, yet the only way we can grow and get better is to do the hard stuff and experience the discomfort. The more we choose to try new things, the more successes we will have, and so, we will, in turn, be more willing to take chances.
Instead of trying to avoid the discomfort, lean into it, take a risk. Every time you overcome your fear, you will learn to be courageous and do the hard things anyway. It’s as if courage were a muscle, and every time you lift the weight of fear, your nerve becomes stronger, and you can face a more substantial fear when it comes up.
There’s no such thing as not being afraid. You will be frightened a lot of the time, especially if you’re learning and growing in your roles at work or home. Who hasn’t been afraid when starting a new job, buying a house, getting promoted, or beginning a family? When I started my business, it was very uncomfortable. New companies take a lot of time and effort to become viable, and the odds for success are small. I had to move forward one day at a time and not try to think too far ahead to the possible consequences. It’s a vulnerable place to be. And many of us were taught that vulnerability is a weakness.
Here’s the bottom line: successful people are dissatisfied if they are not growing. But how do you get better? By taking risks, this requires you to embrace discomfort. It’s that simple, but it’s not easy.
Start by thinking of the worst possible outcome. What is the worst-case scenario if you face fear and embrace vulnerability? Maybe you don’t achieve your goal, or you don’t quite get there as soon as you thought that you would, but if you give it your all, you can still be proud and excited and happy. What’s the alternative? Never trying?
We are always trying to dodge negative emotions. It makes it easier when we continue to go for our goals despite our failed attempts. Why does this matter? Because when we’re afraid, it’s easy to justify, not trying. We are scared of what others will think if we fail, fearful of rejection, and fearful of making a mistake, especially at work, and it keeps us from taking action if we do not make stepping outside our comfort zone and (possibly) into failure a habit.
Deciding that you can handle your discomfort even if it’s unwelcome, is one of the most useful things you can do to maximize your growth. Just as fearing anxiety increases it, embracing discomfort dissipates it to a point where it becomes useful. Understanding anxiety and discomfort and being clear about the other feelings they create can help us thrive. Once you realize that you are in control, you can partner with your fear and change how you think about and experience it. By taking charge of your mindset, your emotional responses, and your actions, you will be able to experience discomfort and vulnerability but do it anyway.
As Nike says,
“Just Do it.”
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