There’s a saying in coaching circles that goes, ‘the greatest learning happens in discomfort’. By this, we mean that anyone can be amazing when life is happy and easy; it’s when dealing with the hard stuff that we grow and develop, and show who we truly are.
Think about the last time you felt uncomfortable. Maybe you were completely out of your depth at work, or something scared you, or life threw you a massive curveball. Rubbish as it might have felt at the time, did you learn anything from the experience?
Everyone benefits by stretching their discomfort muscle from time to time. It’s why companies send employees on team-building trips, where they go hiking or abseiling or jump out of a plane. These kinds of scary and confronting situations build resilience. When our comfort levels are pushed to their limits, we often emerge stronger on the other side. We learn to trust ourselves more. We increase our confidence, knowing we can handle tough situtations. This is also great for our personal brand, because people get to see us as someone who knows how to step in and grow.
Consider the incredible stories that you occasionally hear about in the news, like when someone develops superhuman strength to rescue a loved one, or survives a disaster against all odds. In these kinds of scenarios, people have encountered serious discomfort and, as a result, discovered how powerful they can be. Here are some classic examples:
- Once upon a time in Canada, 41-year-old Lydia Angyiou fought off a polar bear to protect her son and his friends, who were playing hockey. It’s not like she was screaming at the animal or throwing rocks from a distance; she was literally kicking and punching the bear, even when it was on top of her.
- In 2012, Lauren Kornacki, a 22-year-old from the US, hoisted a car off her father, who’d been pinned underneath while fixing a tyre. Six years earlier, fellow American Tom Boyle pulled a car off a teenage cyclist, mustering some previously untapped muscle.
- You may have seen the film 127 hours, or read the book Between a rock and a hard place; both relate to the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, who was once stuck in a canyon for six days, all alone in the Utah desert. Spoiler alert: he cut off his own arm to free himself.
While we wouldn’t wish these kinds of events on anyone, it is in our best interest to experience discomfort sometimes, albeit on a smaller scale. Because let’s face it - if you’re not throwing yourself into discomfort at work or in life, you’re probably not growing.
Humans are capable of so much more than we imagine. And yes, it’s really annoying that it often takes a big, dramatic push for us to realise our potential. But by trusting that we can be more than what we are now, we get to discover just how strong we can be.
– The Coach Place Global
Image by Joe Wagner
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