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January 25, 2019

A good discomfort

Comfort zones are okay if you need a rest. Actually, that’s a bit snide. You should harvest what you’ve sown, get the benefits of the expertise and momentum you’ve created, leverage your expertise. In fact, you should spend 95% of your time and attention focusing on doing what you know and do well, as opposed to spending most of your time flitting about like a blue-arsed fly. 

But to create a better and different result – to grow – you need to spend some time being uncomfortable. Growth does not happen inside the comfort zone. Learning does not occur when you only do stuff you know how to do. Some discomfort is essential. And it comes in many shapes.

On our 4-week motorhome odyssey around the South Island, we were deeply discomforted when we had to fix the toilet cassette on Day 5. (Btw, first I took the photo, then I got involved. Deeply.)

Without extending the metaphor too far, there are times in your business when you’ve simply got to get your hands dirty to get the job done. You might have a few cassettes you’ve got to sort out this year. Best you get on with it because they’re not going to fix themselves and they’re only going to stink the place up. 

Other forms of discomfort I’m experiencing at the moment are more wholesome. One is the discomfort of not knowing how to do something.

We’re moving wholeheartedly into a digital content strategy and working on creating a much more powerful online presence. We believe we can use our content in multiple ways. For example, this blog will become the basis for a conversation with Ryan, my business partner, which we will video and then use the audio track for a podcast. I have no idea how we are going to do that.

We have talked for a while about doing a podcast, but we haven’t got to it. That’s in part because, while I obviously know what they are and how to do them, I don’t know how I will do it. Because I haven’t done it! Solution: just do it! (Or the other option: talk about doing it, but stay inside my comfort zone of things I already know how to do. Advantage: I don’t actually have to do anything to execute this option. It will just happen all on its own. Unless Ryan reads this…uh oh.)

The other sign of a good discomfort is that thought that kicks in just as you’re about to leave your comfort zone: “This may not work”. You only know for sure that things are going to work if you’ve seen them before, if they are familiar. And the real value of that discomforting thought is that it engages your prefrontal cortex – your active, conscious mind. You don’t have the option of going through the motions when you’re concentrating and focusing on performance. 

Here are some summary questions to think about: 

  • What’s your equivalent of the broken toilet cassette? 
  • What have you avoided taking on because you don’t know how to do it yet? 
  • What have you avoided because you’re not 100% certain it will work but if it did it would really move the needle?

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