Get Comfortable with Discomfort: Leadership Skills

Perhaps the most essential skills to be a leader is learning to lean into growth. In order to continue leading, you have to stay ahead and growth is the foundation. Unfortunately, growing is not a comfortable place to be in and many of us have an adversity to discomfort.

Why it’s important to remain uncomfortable

Once you’ve made it to a leadership position, you may feel the opportunity to relax and stay within your boundaries. Usually after a while, most people become unhappy with their position and want to change jobs or get promoted. Our default human condition is to grow. We want to learn, be challenged and overcome. In order to do that, we have to step outside of our comfort zone.

If your own growth doesn’t seem important to you, remember that leadership is the model for other employees. If you want to grow your employees, you have to show them that being uncomfortable is not only okay, but desired when it leads to growth.

“If we are growing, we’re always out of our comfort zone.”
-John Maxwell

In short, without challenging ourselves, we shrink and fall behind which is not how great companies are built. So if you want to grow your business, you’re going to have to do a bit of growing too.

So how do we get comfortable with being uncomfortable?

We can embrace the feelings of change and discomfort in simple ways. Sometimes it’s a tweak to how we work it into our day or sometimes it’s just taking on a new perspective.

1. Understand the situations that make you uncomfortable.
Having an inventory of the things that most scare you or make you uncomfortable will help you understand your aversion to getting them done. Think about common challenges that make you uncomfortable. It could be talking about money with clients, it could be managing conflict or having difficult conversations. Knowing where you struggle most will help you identify if a project or task will be stress-inducing and how you can best prepare for it.

2. Understand how you manage discomfort and stress.
Sometimes we don’t think we are stressed, but we can see it through the different ways we address it. If you eat a lot of chocolate when you are stressed, that craving is a sign you are living in some discomfort. Once we understand how we manage our discomfort, we can tweak our routine with more helpful actions like listing 3 reasons we need to do the uncomfortable thing or jumping into the action rather than a bag of Hershey’s Kisses (or both). We can manage our default reactions to discomfort if we are aware.

3. Get a curiouser perspective.
Instead of seeing things as challenges or struggles, get more creative and see how being uncomfortable is offering a new perspective. What can you learn in this discomfort? How can you make it less stressful for others who will have to experience the same growth? Are there new solutions to old problems? Discomfort allows us to be come more innovative, more out-of-the-box and more curious about the processes and projects we work with every day.

4. Create more helpful internal thoughts.
Thinking that something is uncomfortable and stressful only makes it more so. Instead of caving into the easier, more comfortable way, I invite you to craft a better story about what you are doing. You can start with your big goals. Maybe it’s making $1 million this year. How does this discomfort lend to that goal? Remember the big picture reasons you are stepping into growth and discomfort and tell yourself a better story like “I have to do things I’ve never done to meet goals I’ve never met.”

5. Take the plunge.
Nothing gets us through the discomfort like feeling the challenge and doing it anyway. Mistakes can happen even when we feel we are ready. Sometimes, the best way is to just jump in and do it. Start that new project or step into a new skill and lean into the discomfort.

Are you comfortable being uncomfortable?

Tell me about what makes you uncomfortable in the comments or email me if you’d like to talk about how to get past your blocks.

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