Sweat was dripping in my eyes and my heart was hammering in my chest. We were in the middle of a one hour tour of “hell on turf.” Push-ups…sprints…50 yards of lunges…sprints…bunny hops…sprints…mountain climbers…sprints. You get the picture. As I rounded a corner I heard the trainer explaining to a fellow workout participant the need to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Desperate to stop thinking about the pain in my legs, my mind latched onto that phrase: get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It made a sadistic kind of sense. As we push ourselves physically we need to get in the habit of pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones. Growth comes from being OK with periods where we are not comfortable.
I think this concept has a lot of application in life and business outside sports.
For an international executive it might mean learning new ways of managing and leading that are not their normal style.
When I first started going to Japan I had to learn to be OK with the ambiguity that inherently comes with the Japanese language and speech patterns. I also had to learn to be more comfortable with a system which was both hierarchical in terms of age and seniority while also noting the communal nature of decision making. Those aspects of Japanese culture still make me uncomfortable – but I know how best to utilize the situations and be effective while maintaining my own values.
As business becomes more and more global and intertwined, I believe a key capacity of international leaders will be this ability to stay effective as the rules and norms that keep them comfortable change.
A key way to keep forward momentum during these times is to check in on our CQ drive and understand what is motivating us and tapping into the power of goals. Just like I can suffer (for a while!) because I know I am getting closer to my fitness goals, I can develop capacity during situations of “uncomfortableness” if I keep the end in mind.
Here’s to staying uncomfortable in pursuit of our goals!