Growth Requires Being Comfortable With Feeling Uncomfortable

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We all have a comfort zone, a place where things are known, safe, and predictable. However, remaining in our comfort can become the greatest inhibitor to accelerated performance. Without the discomfort of learning something new and growing beyond our current capabilities, we will not experience the greatest rewards possible.

I recently spoke with a client who said that the last three months of our working together were the most uncomfortable three months of his professional life. We specifically discussed the level of skill his leadership team had for being a magnet for top tier talent, executing on strategic initiatives faster and more reliably, and fostering the mindset of customer excellence throughout the organization.

These conversations led him to realize that he had the wrong people in the right roles, and in turn that his hopes for higher performance would be stalled if he didn’t make significant changes. This meant asking several employees to leave.

This CEO accepted that his dreams of elevated performance were dependent upon his willingness to make uncomfortable decisions and asked for ideas as to how he could become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. I suggested the following three strategies.

  1. Link your discomfort with your purpose

The most important growth catalyst is to focus on the idea, hope, dream or aspiration you have for your work or personal life. What is the one idea you will not tolerate leaving unfinished or undone? Hold this firmly in your mind when it comes to moving outside your comfort zone because without it change becomes intellectual and not emotional. Feelings propel you to change faster than facts.

  1. Associate discomfort with growth

This strategy is a mental jujitsu maneuver. Whenever you feel discomfort it is a reminder that you are poised for growth or undergoing growth. Poised for growth in the sense that you’re confirming the old way of working is no longer working, or that you are undergoing change and growing. Both send the message that change is underway.

  1. Fail forward faster

Discomfort doesn’t have to last indefinitely. Remind yourself that pain and discomfort last as long as it takes to achieve the result you want. The faster you make mistakes, learn from them and regroup the faster you’ll eliminate the discomfort.

Which of these three strategies will serve you best this week?

If you’d like to learn how to fail forward faster, drop me a line at and we can discuss how my work can reduce your time to success.


  1. Mary H. Loomis says:

    This Monday morning mindset really spoke to me. I am having to make a lot of uncomfortable decisions right now but I really see it is about the change that is needed for my company and myself to be successful and go forward. You really can’t let uncomfortable decision hold you and your team back, but you have to be careful to make the right decisions because it will affect your entire team – the best decisions affect them for the good of all.

    • Hugh Blane says:

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, you want to make the best decisions possible as your decisions affect the well-being of the employees you work with. One of the most uncomfortable decisions leaders have to make is whether they are comfortable making mistakes. “Right” decisions can be made, but require the perspective I outlined in another post that might be helpful. It was called: The Best Perspective To View Your Performance. It outlined the good, better and best decisions. You might find it helpful. It’s here:

  2. Good timely information for me Mr. Blane. Thanks for the continued motivation and direction.

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