Come in. Sit down. Make yourself uncomfortable.
I sometimes open a coaching session with that line. To start with a little humor, but also to set the bar appropriately high.
No one is paying me to have nice, comfortable conversations.
Don’t get me wrong. Comfort is wonderful. It’s a warm fire in the middle of a snow storm. It’s a hug at the end of a rough day. It’s a home-cooked meal after eating on the run for days and weeks at a time. It’s sinking into a soft seat and watching a great movie or show.
Comfort feels good.
So why shouldn’t we want it all the time?
Because the comfortable foods, the comfortable activities and the comfortable conversations won’t give us the big things we want. Sure, they’ll feel good, look good or taste good for a moment. But they won’t move us toward our goals. They won’t change our lives.
Think about your proudest moments. Your best accomplishments. Your successes.
Academic success. Relationship success. Professional success. Financial success.
Was there some discomfort in making those happen?
I bet there was. I bet there was all sorts of discomfort along the way. And yet, you powered through. You did what you needed to do. With grit, with grace, with commitment, with discomfort.
So that’s why I invite people to: Come in. Sit down. Make yourself uncomfortable.
The more comfortable we can become with discomfort, the more likely we’ll be to achieve what we want. The more we train and build the “muscle” of discomfort, the more we can lift what we need to lift, run where we need to run and do what we need to do.
Physically, mentally and emotionally.
If you’ve set some important goals for yourself for 2016, it’s go time. Time to ramp up your workout in the gym of discomfort. Here are a few exercises to get you started:
- Develop a daily practice of physical discomfort (not pain of course – just discomfort). Exercise beyond your comfort point. Meditate beyond your comfort point. Stand beyond your comfort point. Delay your next meal beyond your comfort point. Allow your body to show you that yes – yes it can withstand discomfort.
- As you plan your day or your week, schedule some uncomfortable conversations. You know the ones… the ones you’ve been avoiding… the ones you know you need to have. They’ll be uncomfortable. You won’t handle them perfectly. But that’s ok. You’ll exercise your thoughtful conversation muscles and you’ll continue to get better and stronger.
- Seek out uncomfortable information. From fields different than yours, political and religious groups different than yours, cultures different than yours and value systems different than yours. Stretch yourself to understand how/why those things make sense. Islam, Libertarians, Metaphysics, Polyamory, 14th century Sufi poetry, the music your kids are listening to… doesn’t matter – just find material and ideas that make you uncomfortable. You don’t have to agree, just try to understand. Exercise your intellect and your empathy muscles.
- Step into uncomfortable roles and experiences. If you’re a leader, join a group where someone else leads – a committee, a peer group or a volunteer group. If you typically follow or participate, step up and lead something. If you live to give and serve others, play with receiving – simply receiving and expressing gratitude – no reciprocal giving (talk about uncomfortable!). If you rarely give, play with an experience of giving beyond comfort – your time, your money, your help, your self.
- Set an uncomfortable goal. If SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound) goals don’t quite do it for you, maybe try WILD goals on for size… World-changing (even if it’s just your world), Idealistic (go ahead – paint your ideal picture), Love-based (you’re going to love – with a capital L – the results of this goal) and Determined (wild horses won’t keep you away from the steps required to reach this goal).
There you have it. Your discomfort gym. Come on in…
Do uncomfortable things, have uncomfortable conversations, power through uncomfortable information, try on uncomfortable roles, and go WILD with your goals.