We spend a lot of time and money on comfort. We search for the right pillow, the right chair, the right shoes (although my stiletto-wearing friends will disagree with that one). 

And yet, many of the best things for us make us uncomfortable. The doctor’s visit where we calibrate our health . . . taking a walk even if we’re tired. . . finishing the taxes tonight instead of waiting until the last minute.

My job often involves making people uncomfortable. As a leadership & workplace coach, clients hire me to challenge them to take action toward things like building a better work experience, creating stronger career prospects or making more meaningful choices about how they use of their time and talents. And the only way to do that is to get really, really uncomfortable. 

Discomfort is where the growth comes from. As a gardener, I think about the example set by a seed. How tough it must be to crack open its hard shell and push through the chilly spring ground. How uncomfortable it has to be to burst through the topsoil in a desperate effort to find the sun. But that is the only path to growth.

If you’re someone who wants to keep growing and sprouting new leaves in your work or life, it’s time to make uncomfortable your new comfortable. But how? Here are three ways:

1. Notice Your Comfort Catches 

We can’t create discomfort if we keep deferring to our comfort routines. Do you opt for silence in disorganized team meeting instead of asking, “Guys–how can we get more organized?” Do you stay in the same job or career because others have said “you’ve got it great”? 

What’s your comfort catch? Notice the times when you long for change, but hear yourself saying “yes, but. . . ” Your “buts” are great clues that you’re in a comfort catch! 

Our comfort routines are there because, well, they keep us warm and safe, which is a lovely place to be – for a while. But as the old saying goes “A ship in port is safe – but that’s not what ships are for.” What’s waiting inside you, ready to launch? The world is waiting for you to let it loose!

2. Build the Discomfort Muscle

What’s the one thing you could do to make yourself really uncomfortable today – but could open up new paths toward better outcomes, greater possibilities, and getting what you want? When I asked some of my clients this question, they said things like:

Tell my boss I disagree with her decision, and why
Keep my BlackBerry turned off all morning so I can plan this afternoon’s meeting
Say no to being on the volunteer team 

What’s yours?

3. Affirm the Squirm

When you build a physical muscle, it’s inevitable you’ll sweat. When we’re building an mental muscle, we squirm. We wriggle and twist and talk ourselves out of it a hundred times. We twist and we fidget and feel out of place.

To make uncomfortable your new comfortable, affirm the squirm. When you start feeling antsy about your new, more challenging actions, have a little chat with yourself that can go something like this:

“Ah, yes, there you are, squirmy feelings – I’ve been expecting you to pop up soon! Nice of you to come visit while I’m challenging myself to do something different. Thanks for stopping by. You can go now.”

The squirm confirms, so be firm, affirm!!

As the founder of Red Cape Revolution: Bring Your Superpowers to Work (www.redcaperevolution.com), leadership & workplace coach and speaker Darcy Eikenberg helps committed, energetic professionals discover new ways to improve their experience at work, in ways that work for their organizations and for themselves.  When you join the Red Cape Revolution, you can access valuable tools such as our “How to Thrive in the New World of Work” ebook and other Tips & Scripts for real-life workplace challenges. Contact Darcy at darcy@redcaperevolution.com or 404.313.0278.
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