Imagine the last time you felt uncomfortable.
Was it in a meeting where you were asked to share your take on a tough topic? Was it when a team member asked you a question you didn’t have an answer for? Maybe it was in the throes of a (real or perceived) conflict with a co-worker.
We all experience these moments of discomfort, and none of us like it. Human nature dictates that we prefer peace and harmony. When something creates friction or disruption, our instinct is to ignore, avoid, or sometimes defend.
But what if I told you that these moments of disruption—those instances when you feel most uncomfortable—are necessary to your growth?
It’s scientifically proven that experiencing discomfort makes us more resilient. It also makes us more agile, more adaptive, and more innovative. As leaders and as humans, we become better problem solvers and more capable challenge navigators when we get comfortable with discomfort.
Let’s consider one of the greatest challenges of all: change.
When faced with change, almost everyone balks. You might deny the need for it. You might attempt to prevent it. And when the threat persists, you probably do everything you can to put it off.
We respond in these ways because it’s human nature to resist change and seek the comfort of the known and familiar. But these responses aren’t realistic or effective. Change is inevitable, and so it serves us to build the skills to adapt.
When you embrace discomfort, you’re honing that skill set.
Some of the capabilities you’ll gain by getting comfortable with the uncomfortable include:
The world in which we live and work is constantly evolving. Leaders who are willing to get uncomfortable are better equipped to adapt and guide their teams and organizations through change and uncertainty.
Complexity and ambiguity require leaders to make decisions without all the information they might desire. When you get comfortable with discomfort, you become more confident in relying on your judgment and experience.
Progress often comes from exploring the unknown. Leaders who embrace discomfort encourage experimentation and creativity, are unafraid to challenge the status quo, and create cultures where innovation can thrive.
When you acknowledge your own discomfort, you’re showing vulnerability. Leaders who humanize themselves in this way can create greater trust and loyalty with their teams and peers.
If you want to grow these crucial leadership skills, it’s important to resist your natural instinct to seek comfort and instead intentionally seek discomfort.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. So, how can you begin to move outside of your comfort zones?
SHIFT YOUR MINDSET
Changing your perspective on discomfort can help you evolve from seeing it as a negative experience to viewing it as an opportunity for growth and learning.
CHALLENGE NEGATIVE BELIEFS
Limiting beliefs (“I’m not strong enough to withstand this”) might prevent you from embracing discomfort. Challenge these thoughts by seeking evidence to the contrary, recalling times when you did persevere.
It may go against your instinct but consistently look for opportunities to step outside of your comfort zone. As soon as you overcome one hurdle, push yourself to get uncomfortable again and again.
REFLECT & LEARN
You may tend to push memories of uncomfortable experiences to the back of your mind. But self-reflection can reinforce your progress and motivate you to continue pushing your boundaries.
In a complex, uncertain world, leaders who are willing to get uncomfortable are more capable of guiding their teams and organizations through change.
When we accept that discomfort is a natural part of our journey, we open ourselves to learning and growth that will help us thrive personally and professionally.
At Transitions Coaching, we understand that change isn’t easy. That’s why we’re committed to helping people through the inflection points on their career or leadership journeys. Meet the Transitions Coaching team here and learn more about how we can help you adopt a new perspective on the discomfort that comes along with change.