By Wayne Kurtz
We hear the quote in all aspects of life: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” This mind-set of pushing to the extremes is the complete opposite of the participation award mentality that reverberates for so many children participating in team sports.
Many times, the first reaction to something scary is avoidance, and then after that it’s pushed to the back burner. Taking on big challenges requires a MASSIVE change in mind-set. It means building mental stamina in almost every situation; this is the essence of embracing the suffering in working nonstop to launch a startup company or in passing the barrier point during an over-the-top physical activity.
When you get out of your comfort zone to deliver your first public presentation to a live audience, toe the line at a multi-day endurance race, or juggle every aspect of your startup business, one thing that’s guaranteed is stress. This stress is the point where the mind wants to say no and begins to think too far into the future. The solution is to remain in the present. I know you have heard this a million times, but have you applied it to you own uncomfortable situation? Build a being in the present process.
The benefits of staying present while practicing yoga or mindfulness sessions are immense, but the real challenge is to take this calmness to a situation that is real and beyond uncomfortable. The only way to build a process of staying present when uncomfortable is by actually doing it. Test and record what works best for you. A simple process is either box breathing (belly breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, blow out for four seconds, and hold for four seconds) or counting in your head while breathing through your nose.
There is a tendency to think of uncomfortable situations as being part of physical activity and other personal fitness pursuits, but consider the benefits of getting yourself uncomfortable in every aspect of your life. I call it “taking failure risks.”
Failure risks help get you outside of your comfort zone. They offer a chance of failure. These situations will push you mentally and physically.
Here’s my idea: take one failure risk every month as we roll through 2018. What this entails is a deep think of situations that will get you beyond uncomfortable, nervous, apprehensive, and scared.
Twelve-Month Failure Risk Plan
- Do a deep dive and think about what goals you want to accomplish. Keep the term within twelve months.
- Break your goals down to one per month; make sure they push the envelope aggressively while still being realistic.
- Add a deadline for each one with a specific action item in your calendar.
- Write out two or three words that you will recite out loud to embed in your subconscious when you face the beyond uncomfortable situation and feelings.
- Get twelve index cards and write out the huge, uncomfortable goal in red letters across the card. Get it laminated at a local printing store. Carry each month’s card around with you in your pocket for the whole month.
Think of these three words: resilience, grit, and persistence, and embed them into your daily life. For years, many people have nicknamed me “the Grinder” and “Wayne the Train.” Create a simple nickname or word (you don’t have to make it public) about a personality trait you embrace when facing adversity and severely uncomfortable situations.
Ask yourself these three questions when facing a big challenge to get uncomfortable:
- Why do you want to do this thing?
- What’s the potential outcome?
- What’s the worst thing that can happen?
Failure risk examples:
- Deliver a speech to a local school or nonprofit, or at work, with at least 100 people in the audience staring at you, on a topic you are not an expert on.
- Take a three-minute cold shower every day for thirty days. Then go out into the cold with minimal clothing for fifteen minutes.
- Start a business in thirty days with a product or service that offers value to your community.
- If you have a business, sell a product or service that you have yet to create or build.
- Sign up immediately for a tough endurance challenge that pushes you more than forty-eight hours.
- With no planning, walk out your door with some minimal cash in your pocket and walk to another town.
- Go to the airport and just buy a ticket as cheaply as possible. Fly to a foreign country with $200 maximum in your pocket.
- Sign up at the last minute for a Spartan race or marathon on little training.
- Present a proposal on how you would solve a key business problem and deliver it to your boss’s boss. Yes, risky for sure and extremely uncomfortable.
- If you are an introvert, every time you walk into a coffee shop have a conversation with at least one person. If you are an extrovert, go to the coffee shop and use only facial expressions and a few words to listen more than you speak to at least one person per visit.
Getting into an uncomfortable situation is definitely stressful, but the potential benefits (good and bad) that come from significant challenges will help mold you into getting comfortable being uncomfortable.
Wayne Kurtz is the author of Beyond The Iron, Never Say “I Wish I Had” and co-author of Stronger Than Iron (the epic world record journey of the athletes who finished the 2013 Triple DECA Iron event). For more info visit his blog. Read his story on competing in a 30-Ironmans-in-30-Days event.
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