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Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

Caitlin Keat, COO

3 July 2020

We spend most of our life avoiding discomfort and, in many areas, this makes sense and even helps us to be successful. Don’t worry I’m not going to spend this post telling you to sleep on the ground or throw out your comfy computer chair. I won’t tell you to wear jeans or work clothes in your own house to make yourself more productive. What I will tell you is that are places in our life where we should strive for discomfort or at the very least not shy away from it. That in discomfort we find growth.

One of the easiest ways to see this illustrated is in weight training or cardiovascular exercise. If you are a runner for example and want to increase your pace you aren’t going to get there by only doing comfortable runs every time. There will be days where even the normally comfortable, easy, runs feel uncomfortable. You will need to mix in speed and interval training to get your body used to different paces and to help build up different muscles, including your heart. This may not sound fun, and it’s certainly not easy but there is peace in knowing that those not so easy runs are changing your body in positive ways.

Your muscles aren’t the only one place you can find growth from discomfort. Over my career, I have found the roles where I felt the most uncomfortable offered the most growth. It was the roles where I thought to myself, you want me to do what? You’re going to let me manage that many people? Or that much money? Do you know I only have MONTHS of experience doing that? However, it was those roles where I really dug in, asked questions, found new networks, and learned new concepts.

Ironically, I didn’t realize how much and how accelerated by learning and growth was in those roles until I’d spend time in comfortable roles. I found after a while that the concepts and the day to day become routine, the decisions and the solutions to our problems were so similar. For a time, this was nice. It was certainly a good reset for my head and my heart, but soon it became boring. Soon I realized that I had more to give and that there was more I wanted to learn. I found myself actively seeking out the unknown and uncomfortable roles I learned so much from in the past.

Before we leave let’s pause on the meaning of discomfort. Merriam-Webster defines the word as “mental or physical uneasiness.” There is one important word missing from that definition that I want you to be on the lookout for, pain. If you find yourself in pain whether it’s running or learning that is a sign that something is wrong. While I want you to embrace your discomfort, I don’t want you to ignore your pain. Never push through the pain.

The next time you are in a place of discomfort try to take a step back and assess the situation. Remember that much, if not most, of our growth, comes for these uncomfortable situations. Also, remember that discomfort and pain are not equals. So, keep learning and growing and taking care of yourself along the way. Finally,  let us know how you’ve embraced discomfort and what you’ve learned throughout YOUR journey.

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