Dialing Up the Discomfort
One of the curious aspects of the human condition is that we grow to achieve comfort, but when we achieve that comfort it prevents us from growing. It has long been said that luxury is the lull to apathy. In practice, this means that it is difficult to reach new heights if we do not leave our present place. For most people, this means that personal, professional, or financial growth will require that we “Dial up the Discomfort” of the conversations and decisions that we must make.
The reason why this principal takes on such importance is because we all have a natural tendency to perpetuate the standard quo. Keeping things going the way that they have been going in the past is the path of least resistance. The problem is that following the path of least resistance cannot be expected to produce results that are different than what has been achieved in the past. Fundamentally, this means that each time we wish to expand and grow our personal abilities, we must push beyond the realm of our comfort zone.
Why is Discomfort Necessary?
Whether we are talking about the context of personal, professional, or financial life, dialing up our level of discomfort is necessary to grow and progress. If our relationships never experience any friction, they will not progress … they will simply stay where they are, and may possibly slip into decline. If a business never challenges itself to accomplish new goals, it will pass through the stage of maturity and into decline. If our financial decisions are rooted only in the desire for comfort, it will result in many lost opportunities throughout our career.
Fundamentally speaking, the way that we grow is to break out of our current ‘normal’ and seek out a new equilibrium that generates higher and greater levels of achievement. Once this has been achieved, a new ‘normal’ is established, and the process begins over again. The world’s high achievers must learn that constantly challenging the limits of their comfort zone is part and parcel to the growth and development that a high achiever should expect from themselves.
How Far Should We Dial It Up?
Once a person has accepted the necessity of discomfort as a piece of personal, professional, and financial growth, it becomes necessary to determine how far we must push the envelope. If we push too hard, it can create destructive results from failed ventures, nervous breakdowns, and the like. Conversely, if we do not push hard enough, we cannot expect to grow and progress. In order to achieve this “Sweet Spot” of personal and professional development, it becomes necessary that we learn to recognize how much discomfort is necessary without pushing the boundaries so hard that they collapse.
The True Hallmark of Success
The true characteristic that differentiates those who achieve success and everybody else is the number of uncomfortable conversations that they are willing to have. This does not mean that successful people need to become a “Bull in a China Shop” who constantly disrupt the environment around them. Rather, it is a testament to the fact that constantly growing means that we will constantly be pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone.
In this way, we should go into each day asking ourselves what we are going to do that pushes our zone of comfort?A What conversations are we willing to have that we would rather put off?A What difficult work are we stalling on by keeping ourselves busy with something else?A What do we avoid by telling ourselves that we will get to it later?A The sooner we develop the ability to take these tasks head-on, the faster our trajectory of personal, professional, and financial growth will accelerate.
In the end, each of us who seek to follow a trajectory of continued growth must find a way to consistently push our personal boundaries of comfort. The exact way that each person dials up their own level of discomfort will be unique. However, there is one common characteristic that is shared between the journey of all aspiring achievers. This common thread is that we must all find a way to push our comfort zone, and find the right way to undertake this task in such a way that it propels us onward and upward, but does not wreak a destructive force upon our lives. Ultimately, this serves as one of the many challenges that all achievers must undertake. And like all other challenges, ignoring it will not make it disappear. It will only be accomplished if it is addressed.