In Praise of Discomfort

Doing things you’ve never done before is often difficult or more likely, uncomfortable. In the act of new-doing, we have to train our minds and bodies to be and act in unusual ways. It’s unfamiliar. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s progress.

Growth, progress, or change is an uneasy proposition for most. Few people readily charge open-armed into a breach they’ve never visited before. We humans like our comforts. We enjoy our routines. There is safety in what we know, and yet, human beings are brilliant at adapting. We construct, we build and we circumvent. We solve the problem.

Yep, we solve the problem - sometimes. We also procrastinate, which is another way of not dealing with something distasteful or uncomfortable. For me, procrastination is creating the appearance of dealing with something, but not actually dealing with it. For example, I really don’t like “cold calling.” I have to do it though, it’s necessary and I know I have to do it for the sake of my business. I subscribe to the “You must do something different to achieve a different outcome” theory. And yet, my call list sits neatly in a red folder on the corner of my desk, ready for action. It’s been there for a while now…

I know that when I’ve set out to do any great thing in my life, I’ve been really uncomfortable, sometimes even terrified. Failure, self esteem and the general unknown can create a heady brew of complacency. Do not drink it. Step away from the cup of things and ideas that keep you in exactly the same place. Imagine a Geiger counter blipping when you mentally point it at the thing that makes you uneasy. Mine blips (loudly) at the red folder. That’s how I know it’s the thing that needs my attention the most.

Whatever makes you uncomfortable, do it. Learn public speaking, be better at networking, grow your business, and be a better person. Challenge yourself to reveling in discomfort. Do it. Re-do it. Whatever it is. Whatever it takes. As Grace Hopper once said, “The most dangerous phrase in the language is “we’ve always done it this way.”

Excuse me while I make a few calls.

LB Adams is the Founder of Practical Dramatics headquartered in Charleston, SC.  Her company uses theatre strategies to help humans grow more profitable conversations with other humans.