Leaders Welcome Discomfort
I benefited several weeks ago from a short speech by Ruben Chavez, who runs an organization called “Think Grow Prosper.” Ruben was a speaker for Michael Bungay Stanier’s “Year of Living Brilliantly.”
Ruben reminded his viewers and listeners that leaders must develop the capacity to sit with discomfort. I wish I had understood this concept earlier in my career.
As a young leader, I used to run from discomfort. Why? Like many people, I feared discomfort. I welcomed calm waters. I tried to avoid conflict.
Much of this desire for harmony emanated from my childhood. I grew up in a household where there was regular conflict, all verbal conflict. My mother was the peacemaker. And I modeled her behavior as I became a leader. I did everything I could to avoid conflict, including sweeping important issues under the rug.
Only later during my career did I learn to understand that such leadership behavior is counterproductive. Leaders must be willing to experience discomfort. As Ruben explained, escaping discomfort is a myth. Leaders need to experience discomfort and cannot afford to ignore negative emotions.
To deal with discomfort proactively, we as leaders must exhibit courage. We must respond to situations with bravery rather than with fear and anxiety.
We must practice a daily habit of confronting and accepting discomfort.
If we train our brains to acknowledge and accept discomfort, new neural pathways will be created. And the courage that we display will no longer be an aberration.
It will become a habit, a habit that will help us reach our leadership potential.
Please learn to welcome discomfort on your own leadership journey. It will lead you to enhanced and valuable learning.