Happy New Year (about 3 weeks late!)
Jill and I are about to leave for Africa for three weeks and my days have been filled with prep work for the big trip.
Before I leave, I want to talk to you about the cost of comfort. I recognize there isn’t anything inherently bad about being comfortable or the desire to lead a comfortable life. But what if seeking discomfort was the quickest way to grow?
That’s the question I want you to reflect on.
Several seemingly unrelated circumstances have prompted me to explore how embracing discomfort may be the ultimate hack for growth.
The theme that keeps showing up for me this month is essentially…
You’re not going to accomplish much unless you do something really uncomfortable.
Here’s how this unfolded for me…
First, a coach friend recommended that I watch The Selection – a TV series on HULU that places 30 men and women with no military background through the most intense physical and mental challenge of their lives – Navy SEAL Training.
The lesson? The difference between those that completed the training and those that didn’t wasn’t about physical strength… not even close. It was about mindset.
Then, I found myself listening to a podcast interview with a guy named David Goggins who is all about achieving his personal best and pushing himself well past his comfort zone. David chooses to run the toughest races and put himself through some of the hardest military training programs in the country for no other reason than to see what he’s made of. For him, physical and mental suffering are a journey of self-discovery, no other experience makes him feel more clear, focused and alive.
The big lesson? In Goggins own words, “Life is one big head game and once you learn how to play the motherfucking head game, it’s not a game anymore at all. You can start living your life.”
And just last week, my good friend Eddie mentioned this Goggins dude to me again and how he listens to this episode of the Joe Rogan Experience whenever he needs a kick in the butt.
Annnnd… at the NewTechPDX event last week, I heard Mat Ellis, founder and CEO of Portland based Cloudability, address a question from the audience about being a successful entrepreneur by saying, “Listen! The first thing you need to get straight in your head is that you’re not going to make a difference at anything unless you are willing to get really, really uncomfortable and do something difficult.”
And this wasn’t a righteous statement, it was someone dishing the hard truth on what it takes to accomplish something meaningful.
And the final kicker? I hear Jill on the Peloton the other day listening to the audiobook of ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ by David Goggins. I guess I know what I’ll be reading next. 😉
Okay, so the Universe has spoken.
What does it all mean?
In the simplest of terms, you must resist the urge to give in to comfort. (Which is not always easy. We are programmed to seek comfort.)
Our lizard brain tells us that our survival relies on maintaining the status quo, yet our entrepreneurial instincts tell us that the status quo is a sham.
For this reason, pursuing our biggest vision is diametrically opposed to the comfort we’ve been socialized with, in most ways.
Blazing your own path will likely provoke the discomfort of…
- The judgment from friends and family as you go against the grain and challenge norms. Norms like gender roles or the “security” of a steady paycheck (where you’ll likely experience glass ceilings, pay disparity, and untimely layoffs)…
- There are also no guarantees. No guaranteed time off, sick days, weekly paycheck, bonus, or corner office. There are no guarantees that this is even going to work out – especially no guarantees that you won’t give up on yourself. There are no guarantees that you won’t be working out of your closet while hiding from the kids or on your couch at 1 AM after the family has gone to bed. If you pursue your big vision, you might not get a vacation for a year (or two… or three). There’s no guarantee of a sick day when you have a stomach virus because your income relies on you showing up…
- The uncertainty you’re going to meet as you forge your own way, like a determined entrepreneur who says “there’s got to be a better way,” and is hellbent on discovering it for herself, which might mean that there’s not a playbook to tell you what to do next.
There is ONE comfort that comes from pursuing your own path: The person that you become in the process of following your purpose with every ounce of your being – not shrinking yourself to fit any one person’s definition of who you should be. And that is worth the judgment and the late nights and the uncertainty of not knowing the right way – only that there must be a better way.
Here’s the truth: There is no “right way.”
There is only trusting your own thoughts, ideas, and intuition and going for it.
There is only your way. And that is the only way to go.
So as you consider stepping off the path of comfort that your lizard brain so desperately wants you to stay tethered to, remind yourself:
- There is no growth in comfort.
- If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.
- If you’re comfortable, you’re leaving money on the table.
If you are on the path of growth (a.k.a. DISCOMFORT), be sure to get the support you need to resist the status quo.
The judgment will become less potent when you have someone to kick your ass a little bit and challenge you on the perils of staying in your comfort zone.
And the idea of being comfortable will become less alluring once you break free of the confinement of your own making and start seeking discomfort for the sake of your own growth.
Don’t fight the discomfort. Be grateful for it. That’s where your next level will come from.