February 16

The Discomfort Zone


discomfortzone memeLife isn’t easy, and leadership is harder still.
– Walter Russell Mead

Sometimes, when we get to a certain level of achievement, it is easy to get complacent. To sit back and say ‘well, I’ve done my share of the hard yards – think I’ll put my feet up on the desk and take a bit of a break’.

There’s only one problem with this scenario.

The minute you prop your extremely expensive shoes on the proverbial blotter, someone who is hungrier and more interested in pushing the boundaries of success will be measuring themselves up for your custom-made desk chair – and you will suddenly be sitting at the kitchen table in a pair of sneakers, wondering what on earth went wrong.

There is no such thing as a comfort zone anymore. The days of vanilla leadership and the corner office, being able to coast on past achievements? They have gone forever. Welcome to the discomfort zone, where leadership is not only lived on the edge; but the possibilities to take your abilities to places they have never been before are endless.

When you decide to take that decisive step into the discomfort zone, whether it is as a corporate leader or as an entrepreneur, you are making a step for your own development. Why? Because any time you take a leap into a place which challenges you, then you are going to push your intellectual abilities to the hilt.  And once you push yourself further than ever before, there is no going back from where you started. You are automatically thinking smarter, faster and with more aggression. 

You are also going to start making decisions more quickly. Why? Because if you don’t, then someone else will make them for you. As a leader, that’s not what you are used to. It’s uncomfortable. Decisiveness will therefore become key.

The discomfort zone, perhaps most importantly, also brings you the ability to collaborate and engage. Perhaps you are someone who previously chose to work alone, to stay in the space of comfortable isolation – to be an island of intellectual ‘me’. The discomfort zone? You learn to see the value in those with big ideas – because big ideas bring better thinking, and better results – meaning you win – you all win.

The biggest plus about this scary new place of leadership? As any great of the business world will tell you, all those who are used to being at the head of the pack have an element of selfishness to them. What the discomfort zone teaches is this; the world is uncertain enough. To succeed in a small part of it, why not engage with those who share your vision and focus?

That is where the discomfort zone turns into something a little bit more comfortable.

A great place to lead…

And work.

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