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How to create intentional discomfort in your life (and WHY!)

Seth Godin just posted on his blog about creating discomfort. He says, “if you’re seeking to create positive change in your community, it’s almost certain you’ll be creating discomfort as well.”

I love it because this is exactly the premise behind the 100 Degrees Consulting name. Any change, within yourself, your organization, or your community is going to be uncomfortable at first.

It’s only when we remove ourselves from our comfortable little bubbles that we discover things about our innate beings and our abilities.

Traveling to Kabul, Afghanistan is not for the faint of heart. Before I worked with an organization there, I’d never been particularly drawn to Afghanistan or felt particularly resilient. Growing up in a solid middle class home in suburbia, I didn’t really need to have grit to get through my everyday life.

But traveling to a war-torn city like Kabul, away from everything I’d ever known about myself and the world, taught me that I was resilient. I didn’t need my suburban bubble and could be happy, thrive even, in a place like that.

Would I have known the extent of my resilience without being uncomfortable? Nope.

What are you doing today to create intentional discomfort in your own life? Here are a few ideas:

1. Travel. I have spent lots of time in countries that some people can’t find on a map (who knows where Malawi is?) and it’s only there where I can look around and see nothing familiar that I gain a deeper understanding of different people and cultures. Talk about growth in emotional intelligence! You don’t have to travel six thousand miles to push past your comfort zone though. Maybe it just means a trip to Chicago to meet a colleague in person!

2. Stretch assignments. In my career, I have been granted opportunities and assignments that I didn’t feel ready for or 100% comfortable to handle on my own, but being forced to learn on the spot gave me incredible knowledge and power that I will have forever. I didn’t feel ready to become a CFO when the opportunity arose but had I not taken that job, I can say with absolute confidence that I would not be where I am today.

3. Reaching out to people.  I am an introvert through and through and could hole up in my office for days without human contact and be perfectly happy. But to keep my business alive, I need to find clients and socialize outside of my inner circle. Some of the best life-changing connections I’ve made have happened by being incredibly uncomfortable and reaching out cold to people I didn’t know. Guess what? They actually respond!

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