No one has ever become a hero by dodging discomfort. At the core of our stories, fairy tales, movies and legends, the hero always encounters varying degrees of disequilibrium and disorientation. And this is where the greatest learning takes place.
Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step across your comfort zone.
How do you view the discomforts you encounter? There are 3 choices: Avoidance – Resignation – Engagement.
- Avoidance has its place. Why create discomfort where it’s not necessary?
Yet, who decides what is and isn’t necessary? Going to school and work often creates discomfort, but it’s necessary. Exercising can create discomfort, but we know the benefits. Medical procedures, even though uncomfortable, are a must.
- Resignation in the face of discomforts involves acceptance.
However, the shadow side of resignation is that it can put the discomforts in charge. We can become the victims of certain “pains” we encounter.
- Engagement, I suggest, is a better strategy. How can we leverage the discomforts—both planned and unplanned—for our personal and professional benefit?
“You need to do the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. There are only two pains you have to worry about, ‘the pain of discipline today, or the pain of regret tomorrow.” Jim Rohn
There are times when discomfort can come as a result of an unwise choice, or perhaps through no choice of our own. Avoidance doesn’t work, and can actually make the struggle worse. Resignation often puts us in a reactive mode. Engagement allows us to proactively learn and grow.
Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need. Without discomforts, struggles, setbacks, or obstacles, we would go through life crippled. Sorrows and setbacks can become our pedagogues—our tutors.
- They teach us and toughen us.
- They fortify us like armor.
- They lay a foundation that allows us to grow beyond our current capacity.
- They hone our direction by increasing meaning and purpose.
- They deepen us which in turn strengthens us.
- They are the only way to personal greatness.
When we live in a state of comfort the odds are great that we are not going anywhere. We fail to tap into our potential. Without discomfort our tendency is to avoid asking the important questions—What? How? When? and Who?
Proactively reframe discomfort as an opportunity to stretch your circle of comfort. The best defense is a good offense. Walk toward the barking dog. Realize that discomfort is a first cousin to discipline. They often come at us from different directions, but the results can look very similar.
It’s like a bone that was fragile or broken and is now strong from being used.
Through discipline we push ourselves to be better. Through discomfort we can do the same.
“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.” He continues, “problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever, a barrier to growth and development of the spirit.” Scott Peck
Even though success begins outside your comfort zone it does not need to be terrifying—just uncomfortable. It comes down to learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Comfort zones rarely produce growth. Anyone who has ever changed an unproductive habit, a thought process, or reached a goal, has intentionally invited a certain level of discomfort.
Now for the good news!
The energy that discomfort creates is the same energy that creates solutions! Put it to good use. The finest metals are purified in extreme temperatures. The greatest inventions have been discovered during wars.
A lifestyle of comfort, on the other hand, leads to accommodation and immobility. Things that take no effort are not personally valued.
Something about our natures need a certain amount of…
- bitterness to appreciate the sweet,
- toughness to appreciate the smooth, and
- hardness to appreciate the soft.
But you already know this, don’t you?
How are you using the energy from your current discomforts to propel you? How are you harnessing that energy to your advantage?