“You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” ~Brian Tracy
You’re in a meeting with your colleagues and senior executives. The senior staff is brainstorming ways to streamline processes and become more efficient. The PERFECT solution hits you with such force and clarity you have to fight to maintain your composure. This is your moment. You will be the company hero. Your colleagues will idolize and adore you. You will get a raise, promotion, and the coveted corner office with that fantastic view. And that cute redhead you’ve been dying to ask out will not only notice you, but will be the one to ask YOU out.
Then comes the big moment. The company Vice President completes her spiel and then asks, “Does anyone have any suggestions?” And you freeze. You’ve never spoken in a meeting before. What if your suggestion is really not genius but utter stupidity? You miss your opportunity and to add insult to injury, Bob from the mail room chimes in with your exact suggestion. He becomes the hero, gets the promotion and the girl.
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable
Being uncomfortable is something you have to learn to embrace. Putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations stimulates the part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s happy drug.
The most significant catalyst in the growth process is embedded in discomfort. Challenging your capabilities is what expands them. Most of us back away from things that make us feel uncomfortable—it’s natural. We shy away from the unfamiliar, but then later kick ourselves over missed opportunities. Comfortability brings complacency. It inhibits your ability to grow, your thinking, and your creativity.
The familiar and routine make you feel at ease and provides a sense of control; however, rigid consistency and the refusal to steer away from a routine can dull your senses. Think about your normal drive into work or school. You drive the same route repeatedly. Eventually, the turns become automatic and you start tuning out most of the drive. You become oblivious to the scenery or the subtle changes that have occurred along the way. You arrive at your destination and barely remember the drive. So the underlying message here is, when you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you will tune out and miss so much in your daily life.
Step out of your comfort zone at least 10 times per day
The key here is to be intentional. Look for opportunities to put yourself out there a bit. Speak up in a meeting, have lunch alone, strike up a conversation with the stranger in the elevator, take a different route home. Do something different. The benefits are immeasurable. By intentionally working to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation your world becomes bigger and possibilities become endless.
When you identify and decide to try something that makes you feel a bit anxious follow these steps:
- Start: The first step is always the hardest. Go for it and see what happens.
- Don’t Quit: You will feel awkward. That is natural and it is how you are supposed to feel. So you feel a little foolish, just go with it.
- Laugh at yourself: It’s a new experience, you are going to make a mistake. Expect it, embrace it, and laugh about it.
- Surround yourself with cheerleaders: The company you keep is so important. Surround yourself with measured risk takers who encourage you to try new things and cheer for you when you do.
Being uncomfortable is just that—it’s uncomfortable. It is scary and involves risk. You may look silly, and you may even fail, but you’ve learned something and have experienced the unknown.
Feeling uncomfortable? That’s proof you’re doing it right.
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